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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 June 25 - July 1  > Zenroren says government is doing too little to increase minimum wage
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2008 June 25 - July 1 [LABOR]

Zenroren says government is doing too little to increase minimum wage

June 25, 2008
Representatives of labor, employers and government on June 20 agreed to raise the average minimum hourly wage in the next five years to the lowest level of starting pay for high school graduates at small-sized companies.

The agreement came on June 20 in a meeting of the Roundtable Conference for Boosting the Nation’s Growth Potential established under the Cabinet Office to discuss the basic policy on a minimum wage increase.

Commenting on the agreement in a published statement on June 23, the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) Secretary General Odagawa Yoshikazu said, “It shows some progress by stating that the minimum wage should be increased to the level of the starting pay for high school graduates. But it is far from the goal of eradicating the category of working poor.”

The statement pointed out that the minimum cost of living requires an hourly wage of 1,000-1,200 yen, or an annual income of at least 2 million yen. It also said that even if the current average minimum wage is increased to 750 yen, which is the lowest level of the initial pay for high school graduates, the annual income will be only about 1.5 million yen.

Stressing that an annual income of 1.5 million yen is “far below the level that requires welfare assistance and is insufficient to maintain an independent life,” Odagawa called for the minimum wage to be increased to 1,000 yen per hour or more and for a uniform national minimum wage system to be established.

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) Secretary General Koga Nobuaki published a statement on the same day expressing disappointment because the agreement does not meet the minimum level to maintain even a minimal standard of living. He, however, regard the agreement as commendable because it allows discussion not only about a range of hikes but also about the necessary amount in concrete terms.
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