• Kyodo


Rengo, the nation’s largest labor organization, decided Tuesday to seek a minimum hourly wage of at least ¥1,100 per hour in annual negotiations with employers starting early next year.

It is the first time Rengo, also known as the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, has set a specific numerical goal for a minimum hourly wage. The nationwide minimum hourly average wage set by prefectural labor bureaus currently stands at ¥901.

In the annual talks slated to begin next month, Rengo will seek to narrow the wage disparity between regular and nonregular workers as well as between small and large firms. Many major firms will decide on the level of their pay hikes in March.

“It is important the trend of wage hikes in recent years continues and that they spread throughout society,” Rengo leader Rikio Kozu said at a meeting in Chiba Prefecture.

In its conventional demand for wage increases, Rengo will pursue a pay hike totaling 4 percent with an increase in workers’ base pay of around 2 percent, in addition to a regular wage rise based on seniority.

Rengo will also demand that employers offer equal labor conditions to workers regardless of their employment status and take measures to prevent any kind of workplace harassment, even if a worker is not a member of a labor union, it said.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been urging business leaders to raise wages to help boost consumer spending.

Companies have also been under pressure to increase wages to secure workers amid the continued labor shortage in the rapidly graying country.

The Bank of Japan has continued its ultraeasy monetary policy for more than six years in a bid to achieve a 2 percent inflation target, which apparently still needs support from wage hikes to boost consumption.

Earlier this year, the labor ministry’s regional bureaus decided to raise the average hourly minimum wage by ¥27 to ¥901 in fiscal 2019 through next March, exceeding ¥900 for the first time.

Hourly minimum wages are decided by the labor ministry’s regional bureaus in each prefecture based on local economic conditions.

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