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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 July 31 - August 6  > Labor Ministry’s panel turns its back on workers’ demand for minimum hourly wage increase to \1,000 nationwide
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2019 July 31 - August 6 [LABOR]

Labor Ministry’s panel turns its back on workers’ demand for minimum hourly wage increase to \1,000 nationwide

August 1, 2019

The Labor Ministry’s Central Council on Minimum Wage on July 31 recommended an increase in locally established minimum hourly wages by 27 yen to 901 yen on average. The council, however, turned its back on workers’ demand for the elimination of the gap in regional minimum wages through an immediate increase to 1,000 yen nationwide.

According to the recommendation, the highest minimum wage will be Tokyo’s 1,013 yen per hour, up 28 yen, and the lowest will be Kagoshima’s 787 yen, up 26 yen. The gap between Tokyo and Kagoshima will increase from the current 224 yen to 226 yen. Furthermore, in the recommendation, minimum wages in seven prefectures, including Kagoshima, will remain well below the national average.

Following the council’s recommendation, Japan’s major national trade union centers, the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), issued statements signed by their secretaries-general.

Zenroren Secretary General Nomura Yukihiro in his statement said that under the current minimum wage system, which is not designed to apply a uniform minimum wage rate across Japan, it is impossible to eliminate regional income gaps. Nomura pointed out that regional income gaps will cause a concentration of labor in major cities and exacerbate the problem of depopulation of rural areas and their weakening economies. The Zenroren secretary general said that the Zenroren survey on the minimum cost of living shows that regardless of the region people live in, they spend the same amount on basic living costs. He stressed the need to introduce a nationwide, across-the-board minimum wage system.

Nomura also expressed his determination to continue to work to push regional minimum wage councils to agree on a drastic raise in minimum wages as regional councils will discuss and determine this year’s minimum wage hike based on the central council’s recommendation.

The Rengo secretary general in his statement called for financial support by the government for small- and medium-sized enterprises.


The Japanese Communist Party Dietmembers’ group on July 29 submitted to the Labor Ministry a written request demanding that the minimum hourly wage be raised to 1,000 yen without delay followed by an additional increase of 500 yen and that the current minimum wage system be changed so a uniform rate is applied across the country.

Past related articles:
> Majority of bar associations call for drastic minimum wage hike and elimination of regional income gaps [ July 26, 2019]
> Abe gov’t’s insufficient support for SMEs poses obstacle to implementing higher minimum wage [July 13, 2019]
> Discussions on minimum wage begin [July 5, 2019]
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