MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE IMMINENT IN JAPAN
On July 27, 2011, Japan’s Central Minimum Wages Council recommended an increase of regional minimum hourly wages. The proposed increases range from $0.01 to $0.24, depending on the region. The average increase will be about $0.08, from $8.54 per hour to $8.62 per hour. This increase is significantly lower than last year’s $0.20 minimum wage increase. The final regional minimum wages will be determined by each region’s local council.
There was lengthy disagreement between management and labor sides about the minimum wage increase. The management side claimed the increase would have a negative impact on small and medium sized businesses in regions affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake. Many companies are already struggling to maintain their employees at the current minimum wage. The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) argued that the increase was not high enough. They emphasized the fact that recommended increase for the earthquake-affected zones is only $0.01. This amount is not enough for workers to recover from the earthquake. Zenronen claimed that a greater increase in minimum wage would revitalize the economy in the earth quake affected areas.
Reactions to the proposed increases were swift. On July 28, 2011, about 1,500 workers staged a protest against the unacceptably small raise. The workers called for the minimum wage to be increased to $13.03. This debate currently affects approximately 10 million Japanese minimum wage workers.
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