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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 July 9 - 15  > Minimum wage increase vital to improve people’s livelihoods
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2014 July 9 - 15 [LABOR]

Minimum wage increase vital to improve people’s livelihoods

July 9, 2014
Akahata editorial (excerpt)

The Central Minimum Wages Council has begun its discussion on a recommendation concerning a revision of regional minimum wages for this year. The council will announce its recommendation by the end of July. Based on this, regional councils will determine the minimum wage rates for prefectures. Currently, the national average of minimum wages stands at 764 yen per hour. This means that workers can earn only 152,800 yen a month, even if they work eight hours a day, 25 days a month. This situation forces many workers to work excessively long hours and has contributed to the growing number of the working poor. Workers’ urgent demand is a minimum wage increase to at least 1,000 yen nationwide.

The Minimum Wage Law requires employers to pay their employees more than the amount set by the government. Under the law, a labor contract with wages lower than the legal standard is invalid. The law also provides penalties for violations.

In order to achieve the goal of having minimum wage system created to guarantee workers a living wage, the minimum wage should be drastically increased to a reasonable level based on people’s living costs. Workers whose wages are barely above the minimum wage are for the most part non-regular workers. An increase in the minimum wage is essential to stabilize these workers’ livelihoods, and realize a society which promises people a decent quality of life and non-exploitative work.

After Prime Minister Abe Shinzo implemented his “Abenomics” economic policy, the value of the yen has weakened and the consumption tax rate has increased, while workers’ salaries remain static. As a result, real wages showed a serious drop. According to a government survey on family income and expenditure, real net income of working households in May decreased by 4.6% from the same month last year.

From the aspect of making an economic recovery, it has become more important than ever to increase the minimum wage to better the livelihood of the general public.

Past related article
> Japan’s workers join international action seeking higher minimum wages [May 16, 2014]
> Japan’s dockworkers win minimum wage increase after engaging in strikes [April 11, 2014]
> Japan’s minimum wage lowest among G7 countries [April 3, 2014]
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