A labor ministry panel is expected to reveal its annual average minimum wage proposal this week, with one key, lingering question: Will the figure top ¥1,000?

But aside from that symbolic hurdle, a more substantial issue remains. Will momentum for wage hikes from this spring continue or will it be short-lived?

In that sense, an increase in the average hourly nationwide minimum wage will be a critical indicator of a durable shift, after decades of deflation and sluggish pay growth, as well as more recent price hikes triggered by the Russia-Ukraine war and the weakening yen.