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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 July 27 - August 2  > Labor ministry’s panel proposal only widens regional minimum wage gaps
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2016 July 27 - August 2 [LABOR]

Labor ministry’s panel proposal only widens regional minimum wage gaps

July 28, 2016
The Central Minimum Wage Council of the Labor Ministry on July 27 recommended that regional minimum wages be increased by 24 yen per hour on average.

The panel made this recommendation in line with the Abe government target of raising Japan’s hourly minimum wage by 3% annually in order to eventually achieve a 1,000 yen minimum wage. However, it will take seven years to achieve the government target if the rate increase of the minimum wage remains unchanged. The recommendation will also widen regional minimum wage gaps.

Under the current Japanese minimum wage system, 47 prefectures are divided into four groups, A to D. Prefectures in group A include Tokyo which offers the highest minimum wage (907 yen). Among prefectures in group D, there are four prefectures, Tottori, Kochi, Miyazaki, and Okinawa, where the minimum wage is the lowest (693 yen). The central council recommends how much to raise the minimum wage for each of the four groups. Based on this recommendation, prefectural minimum wage councils determine what the minimum wage should be.

The government panel this year proposed a 25 yen increase to group A prefectures, 24 yen to group B, 22 yen to group C, and 21 yen to group D. If regional minimum wages go up as the panel proposes, the regional minimum wage gap will widen from the current 214 yen to 218 yen. This would cause a population drain in low-minimum wage prefectures and further weaken their economies. It is obvious that the current minimum wage system has reached an impasse.

A National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) survey shows that workers across Japan need to earn at least 1,500 yen an hour as a living wage to cover their basic needs.

The Japanese Communist Party in its proposal is demanding the creation of an across-the-board minimum wage system and an immediate increase in the hourly minimum wage to 1,000 yen or more nationwide.

The need now is to increase efforts to push regional councils to determine the amount higher than that of the central council’s recommendation.


Zenroren Secretary General Inoue Hisashi on the same day issued a statement calling on the government to make a political decision to set the minimum wage at 1,000 yen or more an hour without delay. He also expressed his determination to strengthen the Zenroren movement working to realize a nationwide minimum wage system.

Past related articles:
> Labor ministry council begins discussing minimum wage hike [June 16, 2016]
> Gap in regional minimum wages weakens local economies: JCP Shimazu [February 10, 2016]
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