Last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy recommended that the government draw up detailed measures to bring the nationwide average minimum wage up to ¥1,000 per hour as soon as possible.
According to an article in the May 15 Asahi Shimbun, the recommendation could cause some concern since the government is anxious about the instability of the business environment owing to factors such as the ongoing U.S.-China trade tensions, and increasing the minimum wage too quickly may place an unwanted burden on small and midsize companies.
In 2015, the Abe administration said it would aim to raise the average minimum wage nationwide by 3 percent every year — — although the government has no direct way to enact such changes — and by 2018 this average had increased to ¥874 an hour. At this pace, it will be another five years before the minimum wage reaches ¥1,000. According to the Asahi, some members of the panel said the goal should be pushed up, because it is important to expand consumption. Abe in turn instructed the labor ministry to report on what it plans to do in response to the panel's recommendations.