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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 June 24 - 30  > 1,500 yen nationwide minimum wage necessary to survive long-term fight against coronavirus: Zenroren
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2020 June 24 - 30 [LABOR]

1,500 yen nationwide minimum wage necessary to survive long-term fight against coronavirus: Zenroren

June 27, 2020

The Labor Ministry’s Central Council on Minimum Wage on June 26 started deliberation on its annual recommendation for an increase in regional minimum hourly wages. The focus of discussion amid the coronavirus crisis should be put on a significant minimum wage hike and the elimination of gaps in regional minimum wages.

The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) based on its survey on the cost of living is demanding that minimum wages be increased to 1,500-1,600 yen per hour across the nation. In contrast, Prime Minister Abe and the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) are showing unwillingness towards the implementation of higher minimum wages under the pretext of protecting jobs from the ongoing economic crisis due to the pandemic.

However, as measures to ease negative impacts of the coronavirus spread, the government increased the ceiling of employment adjustment subsidies, which help employers compensate workers for their loss of earnings, from 8,330 yen per worker per day (equivalent to 1,041 yen an hour) to 15,000 yen a day (1,875 yen an hour). This indicates that the government may admit that the present minimum wage rate of 901 yen per hour on average is insufficient for corona-affected workers to sustain a decent standard of living.

Even in Britain, which was hit by the pandemic harder than Japan, the nation’s minimum wage was increased 6.2% in April. The Abe government should take steps to realize a minimum wage increase in tandem with financial support for smaller businesses.

Furthermore, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, it is also necessary to eliminate the gap in regional minimum wages which is often criticized as a major factor for the extreme population concentration in Tokyo and the outflow of population from lower minimum wage areas. Currently, the highest regional minimum wage is Tokyo’s 1,013 yen and the lowest is 790 yen in several prefectures including Okinawa.

Zenroren together with independent unions on this day gathered near the Labor Ministry office building, where the central council’s meeting was held, to urge the council to raise minimum hourly wages to 1,500 yen across the nation and change the current system to a nationwide, across-the-board system.

Speaking from atop a campaign van, Zenroren Deputy Secretary General Kurosawa Koichi stressed, “Given that the fight against the coronavirus pandemic will be prolonged, a drastic increase in the minimum wage is necessary for workers to maintain their financial security.”

In Japan, under the current minimum wage system, regional minimum wage councils will determine the minimum wage rates for prefectures based on the central council’s recommendation.

Past related articles:
> Zenroren calls for winning minimum hourly wage hike to 1,500 yen in this year’s spring wage struggle [January 8, 2020]
> Minimum wage hike to 1,500 yen across country necessary to cover basic daily needs: labor union survey [June 7, 2019]
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