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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 July 18 - 24  > Minimum wage in 11 Japan prefectures below poverty level
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2012 July 18 - 24 [WELFARE]

Minimum wage in 11 Japan prefectures below poverty level

July 21, 2012
The idea of public livelihood assistance and a minimum wage is to guarantee the people’s “right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living” as stated in Article 25 of the Japanese Constitution. However in reality, they are falling short of even the minimum living standard.

The so-called “reverse phenomenon” in which the money that one receives from working for a minimum wage falls below the benefits of public livelihood assistance has emerged in 11 prefectures, up from three from the previous year, according to the data the ministry of welfare and labor released on July 10.

The minimum wage is 737 yen on national average. Tokyo (837 yen) comes out on top and the prefectures of Iwate, Kochi, and Okinawa have the lowest at 645 yen. The 640-yen level constitutes almost one third of all Japanese prefectures (16 out of 47).

An average of 737 yen as the lowest hourly wage in Japan is lower than that in other countries.

In terms of purchasing power parity, as of 2010, the United States sets 831 yen as the minimum wage; Britain 1,099 yen; France 1,265 yen; and Holland 1,296 yen.

These countries are trying to further raise minimum wage standards. France and Britain increased their minimum wage by 2% and 2.5% for this fiscal year, respectively. The United States increased the federal minimum wage by as much as 41% from 2007 levels, leading to the wage increase for 5.4 million workers.

Other Asian countries, where wages are low in the first place, are moving to dramatically boost their minimum wages.

China decided to double the level by the year 2015 from the 2010 level. For this fiscal year, Indonesia and Thailand already raised the minimum wage by18.5% and 40%, respectively.

The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) says Japan should also increase its minimum wage to at least 1,000 yen per hour as a means to achieve healthy economic growth.
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