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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 July 30 - August 12  > Just 16-yen hike!? It’s too low for minimum wages in Japan
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2014 July 30 - August 12 [LABOR]

Just 16-yen hike!? It’s too low for minimum wages in Japan

July 31, 2014
An advisory panel to the labor minister on July 29 recommended that the national average minimum wage be lifted by 16 yen per hour from the present 764 yen.

Based on this policy report submitted by the Central Minimum Wages Council, each prefecture will determine its own minimum wage rate.

This year, the tripartite council’s discussions on minimum wages were drawing much attention because rising prices and the higher consumption tax have been squeezing people’s pocketbooks.

The outcome, however, will boost the average minimum hourly wage only slightly. It will be 780 yen, up 2.1% from the previous year, falling short of the 3% increase imposed in April this year in the consumption tax rate (from 5% to 8%).

Working people were also keeping their eyes on the council’s discussions on the widening disparity (currently 205 yen) in regional minimum wages, but the gap will increase to 211 yen according to the recommendation.

Ogoshi Yonosuke of the Japan Research Institute of Labor Movement, a think tank of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), said, “The recommended increase itself is too low in the first place,” adding in frustration, “What is more, the council is going to help further widen the regional gap.”

The think tank researcher said, “Local young people will leave for urban areas if they see the continuation of less job opportunities and low wages. The current system which sets a minimum wage on a region-by-region basis will no longer deal with the situation.” He called for an across-the-board minimum wage system.

On the following day, Zenroren published a statement regarding the council’s recommendation, pointing out that with such a low minimum wage, even a full-time worker cannot earn any more than the level of a person living on welfare. The statement demands that the minimum wage be at least 1,000 yen across the board in order to narrow the regional gap.

Past related articles:
> Minimum wage increase vital to improve people’s livelihoods [July 9, 2014]
> National trade union center calls for increase in minimum wages [July 3, 2014]
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