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Japanese labor federation to demand minimum hourly wage of 1,100 yen

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation, known as Rengo, holds a central committee meeting on Dec. 3, 2019, where it decided to seek a minimum hourly wage of at least 1,100 yen per hour in annual negotiations with employers starting early next year. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's largest labor organization decided Tuesday to seek a minimum hourly wage of at least 1,100 yen ($10) per hour in annual negotiations with employers starting early next year.

It is the first time the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, known as Rengo, 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 yen.

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," said Rengo leader Rikio Kozu at a meeting in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo.

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

Rengo will also demand employers offer equal labor conditions to workers regardless of their employment status and take measures to prevent any kind of harassment at the workplace, 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, hoping higher incomes will boost consumption.

Companies have also been under pressure to increase wages to secure workers amid a 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 its 2 percent inflation target, which apparently 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 in Japan by 27 yen to 901 yen in fiscal 2019 through next March, exceeding 900 yen for the first time.

Hourly minimum wages are decided by the labor ministry's regional bureaus in each of 47 prefectures based on the local economic situation.

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