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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 September 2 - 8  > Minimum wage to be higher than central council’s recommendation
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2009 September 2 - 8 [LABOR]

Minimum wage to be higher than central council’s recommendation

September 2, 2009
All 47 prefectures in Japan on September 1 announced the amounts of their revised regional (prefectural) minimum wage. In Japan, the minimum wage is set in each prefecture by the regional Council on the Minimum Wage.

Akahata has learned that 45 regional councils recommended an increase in their regional minimum wages and 41 regional councils set amounts higher than the Central Council on Minimum Wage recommendation.

The Central Council in late July used the economic downturn to assert that there should be no increase in the minimum wage, except for those prefectures where the current minimum wage is lower than the amount of welfare assistance benefits.

In 31 out of 35 prefectures, where the Central Council advised that the minimum wage be unchanged, the regional councils set a raise in the range of 1-5 yen an hour.

In 8 out of 12 prefectures, where the Central Council suggested an increase by a range of 2-30 yen an hour, the regional councils gave an additional increase by a range of 1-2 yen.

The national average of the minimum wage is 713 yen an hour, increased by more than 10 yen for three consecutive years. However, this raise is really inadequate since part-time workers working full time find it difficult to earn an annual income of 1.5 million yen. The highest minimum wage is Tokyo’s 791 yen, while the lowest is 629 yen in four prefectures, including Okinawa.

The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) Labor Research Bureau Director Ito Keiichi said, “Workers’ struggles and efforts of regional council members representing workers and the public interest have contributed to making additional raises in most prefectures. These results, however, are far from being sufficient to eradicate poverty. In order to achieve a minimum wage of 1,000 yen or more an hour, a drastic raise is necessary. In the recent House of Representatives general election, parties that call for the minimum wage to be set at 1,000 yen or more an hour won the majority of seats. Taking advantage of the election results, Zenroren will continue to demand a substantial increase in the minimum wage.”

Zenroren has been campaigning to have the regional Councils across the country substantially raise the regional minimum wage.

In Osaka in July, young members of the Osaka Federation of Trade Unions (Osaka-Roren) carried out a campaign at all loop line railway stations in Osaka City calling for a substantial raise in the minimum wage based on their experiments of living solely on the minimum wage. At the end of July in front of the Osaka Labor Bureau, where the regional council held a meeting to discuss a possible change in Osaka’s minimum wage, members of Osaka-Roren unions had a hunger strike for 1,000 minutes (about 17 hours) demanding an increase of 1,000 yen an hour.

In Tottori Prefecture, a union member representing the Tottori Prefectural Confederation of Trade Unions (Tottori-Roren) at the meeting of the local council on minimum wage appealed for a dramatic minimum wage hike.
- Akahata, September 2, 2009
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