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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 January 13 - 19  > Youth stand up demanding minimum wage hike
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2016 January 13 - 19 [LABOR]

Youth stand up demanding minimum wage hike

January 13, 2016
Many young people in Japan are taking action for various causes such as anti-racism, a society without nuclear power generation, and repeal of the war legislation. Among them, a group calling for a substantial increase in the minimum wage is coming under the spotlight.

This group’s name is “AEQUITAS”, a Latin word meaning “justice”. It was formed in August 2015 by youth, mainly students working in part-time jobs. They held demonstrations in October and December in the Shinjuku downtown district in Tokyo. In concert with the December demonstration, young people staged similar actions in other large cities, including Kyoto, Sapporo, Nagoya, and Fukuoka.

Along with playing rock music with a powerful beat, protesters called out, “Raise the minimum wage to at least 1,500 yen per hour!” “No to a further consumption tax hike!” and “(Use) money for life, not for war!”

One of the core members of the group, Kobayashi Shun’ichiro, 19, is a student at Tsuru University in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo. “Many students are living by themselves working part-time jobs. The hourly minimum wage in Yamanashi is only 737 yen, and it is almost impossible to live on such low wages. So I talked with my friends to launch a campaign pushing for higher minimum wages.”

Kurihara Kohei, a 20-year-old student at the same university, said, “I thought that if we call for a demonstration, even those unaware of trade unions may come together.” Looking at the “Fight for 15 dollars” campaign by fast-food workers in the U.S., they prepared placards and other appealing items for their demonstrations.

AEQUITAS is advocating “social justice” based on the spirit of Article 25 of the Japanese Constitution. Iwai Yuuki, a 22-year-old student at Hosei University in Tokyo, stressed, “Youth are forced to choose either entering so-called ‘black corporations’ as low-paid ‘regular’ employees or working as contingent workers for the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, large corporations are demanding further corporate tax cuts while making record-breaking profits. Is it a decent society where a majority of workers and small- and medium-sized businesses are forced to endure financial difficulties? The need now is to regulate big businesses by the rule of social justice.”

After the parades, participants often have discussions concerning their harsh working conditions. “Our next challenge is to involve more young people in the labor movements,” said Kurihara. AEQUITAS members are planning to call for joining unions, along with organizing street actions.

Past related article:
> Young people call for minimum hourly wages of at least 1,500 yen [October 18, 2015]
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