Labour union in Japan calls for raise in minimum wage of essential workers

A labour union, representing low-paid essential workers across different sectors in Japan, has urged for minimum wages to be raised.
By: | April 19, 2021

This comes as the country starts its fiscal year when negotiations about minimum wages are discussed. Japan’s financial year is from 1 April to 31 March. 

“We are fulfilling an important role for society by protecting children. But our pay level does not reflect this heavy responsibility,” said a non-regular childcare worker in her 20s spoke at an online news conference last Thursday.  

Japan’s average hourly minimum wage is currently 902 yen (US$8.29). It increased by a mere 1 yen in the last fiscal year due to the labour ministry not issuing guidelines on the matter because of the pandemic.

This is the lowest increase of minimum wages in at least the last 10 years. The figure grew from 823 yen (US$7.56) in 2016, 848 yen (US$7.79) in 2017, 874 yen (US$8.03) in 2018, 901 yen (US$8.28) in 2019 to the current 902 yen (US$8.29). 

In Japan, minimum wage refers to the national weighted average amount per hour. There are two kinds of minimum wage: the regional – applied to all employees in a region regardless of difference of industries – and the specific – applied to workers at specific industries.

READ: Japan saw real wages grow in February

The highest salaries paid are in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Osaka; the lowest are in Okinawa, Nagasaki, Miyazaki, Much, Kumamoto, Kochi and Tottori, according to Trading Economics. 

On the employers’ front, organisations representing small and medium-sized companies held a news conference calling for the current minimum wage levels to be unchanged. They said if they have to pay their employees more, they will be forced to face further hardship amid the pandemic, according to NHK.