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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 July 30 - August 19  > 15-yen increase in minimum wage is far from enough to eliminate poverty
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2008 July 30 - August 19 [LABOR]

15-yen increase in minimum wage is far from enough to eliminate poverty

August 6, 2008
A subcommittee of the Central Minimum Wage Council on August 5 released a report recommending a 15-yen increase in the national average of the minimum wage.

Although it was a one-yen increase from last year, it is far from the workers’ demand for a raise of more than 1,000 yen per hour, essential for eliminating poverty.

The report divides the 47 prefectures into 4 groups according to the target line of the minimum wage hike. Five prefectures, including Tokyo, are in group A that gives a 15-yen increase. Group B includes Saitama and nine other prefectures that should get an 11-yen increase. Hokkaido and five other prefectures form group C that will receive an average 10-yen increase. The remaining 16 prefectures in group D, including Aomori, will get a 7-yen increase.

Concerning the revised Minimum Wage Law, which provides that the minimum wage should be set above welfare assistance benefits, the conclusion requires 12 prefectures including Tokyo to set a higher target line because these prefectures’ regional minimum wage is lower than the welfare assistance benefits.

The Central Council for the Minimum Wage on August 6 will finalize the report.

The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) President Daikoku Sakuji on August 5 sent a statement to the Council demanding a larger increase in the minimum wage, saying that the subcommittee report is unacceptable because it does not respond to the working poor’s urgent demands.

In the statement, Daikoku said that the actual level of the regional minimum wage is lower than the welfare assistance benefits everywhere and the situation is too serious to overlook. He urged the Council to correct the situation in the present review without setting a moratorium for up to five years.

He emphasized that small- and medium-sized enterprises will benefit from a substantial minimum wage hike, because it will encourage people to spend more, and that a minimum wage hike is essential for changing the Japanese economy to one led by domestic demands.

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) General Secretary Koga Nobuaki on August 5 said, “The conclusion is unsatisfactory.”
- Akahata, August 6, 2008
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