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2024 January 31 - February 6 TOP3 [POLITICS]

JCP Chair Tamura demands direct support for wage hikes at SMEs

February 3, 2024

Japanese Communist Party Chair Tamura Tomoko in her interpellation at a plenary session of the House of Councilors on April 2 demanded direct support for wage increases at small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Tamura pointed out that nominal wages went up only 0.7% year-on-year in November of last year and that real wages witnessed a downturn for 20 consecutive months. She said, “SMEs, which employ 70% of the total workforce in Japan, are at a standstill in raising wages.”

Tamura criticized a “tax cut measure for companies where wages were raised” for providing no benefit to firms experiencing hardships, and said that the government should take steps to directly subsidize wage increases at SMEs which are suffering from debts.

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, however, insisted on going ahead with his “pay raise tax cut" policy.

The JCP has proposed levying a tax on a portion of large corporations’ internal reserves and using this as a revenue source to directly support wage increases at SMEs by reducing their share of payments for social insurance premiums. The JCP has also proposed that a minimum hourly wage be uniformly raised to 1,500 yen nationwide. Tamura said, “This is the most effective way for raising wages.”

Tamura said that a substantial increase in non-regular workers’ wages is necessary, and presented a JCP-proposed bill on the improvement in working conditions for non-regular workers. Many employees in public service professions such as in Hello Work public job replacement offices, childcare centers, and libraries are in non-regular positions. She demanded that the government take responsibility to correct wage disparities, guarantee stable employment, and set an example for the private sector.

Tamura noted that the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) in January requested the government to introduce a selective dual surname system for married couples. She pointed out that more than 90% of people who change their surnames and who suffer disadvantages from the surname change are women, and that this is “indirect discrimination”.

Tamura said that both civil society and the business community are calling for the realization of selective surnames, and asked, “Even so, are you still opposed to it?” In response, PM Kishida reiterated his negative stance, saying, “There are various opinions among the public concerning the issue.”

Tamura said, “The movement for gender equality and individual dignity is becoming a great driving force for changing Japanese society,” and expressed her determination, saying “In solidarity with this movement, I will move toward a society where everyone can live with respect for themselves.”

Past related article:
> JCP releases bill to establish fair rules for non-regular workers [October 19, 2023]
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