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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 June 23 - 29  > Drastic rise in minimum wages and an end to regional gaps are vital
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2021 June 23 - 29 [LABOR]

Drastic rise in minimum wages and an end to regional gaps are vital

June 23, 2021
The Labor Ministry’s Central Minimum Wage Council on June 22 began discussing a draft recommendation on this year’s minimum hourly wage revision.

Amid the protracted COVID-19 crisis widening economic disparities and bringing about hardships to many people, a drastic increase in minimum wages and an end to regional gaps are essential.

Currently, the national average of minimum wages is 902 yen per hour. The highest is 1,013 yen in Tokyo and the lowest is 792 yen in seven prefectures, including Okinawa, making the 221-yen difference hourly and 460,000 yen yearly.

Last year, the business community and the former Abe government turned their backs on raising minimum wages by using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse, resulting in an hourly increase of only one yen on national average.

The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) surveyed 34,000 households regarding their minimum cost of living over the past six years. Based on that data, Zenroren made clear that an hourly wage of more than 1,500 yen is needed to make a decent living no matter the prefecture. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations also pointed out that there is no regional difference in the minimum cost of living.

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide says he will "increase the national average of minimum hourly wages to 1,000 yen at an earlier date", but the "1,000 yen" figure itself is too low and a "national average" cannot resolve the regional gaps.

Zenroren Secretary General Kurosawa Koichi said, "With the present minimum wages, many people cannot get out of their hardships. There are more than 200-yen differences in hourly wages depending on prefectures, causing an outflow of population in low wage prefectures. It is necessary to establish an across-the-board minimum wage system and the minimum wage should be at least 1,500 yen."
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