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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 January 25 - 31  > Labor Ministry council okays gap in regional minimum wages
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2017 January 25 - 31 [LABOR]

Labor Ministry council okays gap in regional minimum wages

January 26, 2017
A Labor Ministry council discussing the revision of the minimum wage system has recently published a draft report which approves maintaining the current wage system which has been criticized for widening the gap in regional minimum wages.

This system is designed to determine regional minimum wages by dividing all 47 prefectures in Japan into four groups, A to D, based on 19 statistics from each prefecture regarding people’s income, wages, business operations, and other criteria such as cost of living differences.

Under the system, the gap in regional minimum wages keeps growing. Take Tokyo which belongs to group A and Okinawa which is in group D for example. In 2002, the gap between Tokyo’s minimum wage (708 yen) and Okinawa’s (604 yen) stood at 104 yen. In 2016, it increased to 218 yen although the two prefectures’ minimum wages went up to 932 yen and 714 yen respectively. The inequality of regional minimum wages will bring about a population drain from low-wage regions and the economic decline in local economies.

In August 2016, the mayor of Shizuoka’s Kosai City at a press conference said, “As the Shizuoka’s minimum wage falls short of the national average, people move to higher-minimum wage prefectures.” The regional minimum wage in Shizuoka, which is in group B, is lower than that in Kanagawa and Aichi, both of which are in group A and border on Shizuoka.

The Abe government is proclaiming its support for an “equal pay for equal work” rule, but is reluctant to redress the imbalance in regional minimum wages.

The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) conducted a survey on the cost of living in the Tokyo metropolitan area as well as in other prefectures. The survey found that people across Japan need to earn at least 1,500 yen an hour as a living wage to cover their basic needs.

The need is to introduce a nationwide, across-the-board minimum wage system and immediately raise the hourly minimum wage to 1,000 yen or more in all prefectures.

Past related articles:
> Labor ministry’s panel proposal only widens regional minimum wage gaps [July 28, 2016]
> Gap in regional minimum wages weakens local economies: JCP Shimazu[February 10, 2016]
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