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No.142(2013/11/7)
Average Minimum Wage Sets at 764yen/Hour,
But Gap with RENGO's Living Wage Widens

The revision of regional minimum wages for fiscal 2013 has been decided, with the new national average per hour working out at 764yen, an increase of 15yen over last year.
Regional minimum wages are discussed and decided by tripartite Regional Minimum Wage Councils set up in each of Japan's 47 prefectures on the basis of benchmark increases announced by the tripartite Central Minimum Wage Council in early August.* If the regional councils had decided minimum wages exactly as proposed by the benchmark figures, the national average would have been an increase of 14yen. Because some regional councils went above the benchmark figures, however, the final increase was 15yen. The new minimum wages will go into effect in mid-October in most prefectures and in early November in others.
The highest minimum wage is in Tokyo (869yen), followed by Kanagawa Prefecture (868yen), Osaka Prefecture (818yen), and Aichi Prefecture (780yen). The lowest is 664yen in nine prefectures, including Tottori, Saga, and Nagasaki. Based on these minimum wages, the monthly wage, calculated according to the statutory level of 173.8 working hours per month, works out at 132,783yen on average,151,032yen in Tokyo, and 115,403yen in Tottori Prefecture. This calculation uses the statutory number of working hours, but RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) believes that a level of around 165 hours per month should be used in other surveys, because the actual number of working hours is less than the statutory number of working hours.
RENGO has calculated a living wage necessary to cover minimum living expenses.** This living wage works out at 176,000yen per month in Tokyo and 143,000yen per month in Tottori Prefecture. If RENGO's living wage is taken as 100, the minimum wage is 86% in Tokyo and an even lower 81% in Tottori Prefecture, which is not sufficient to cover minimum living expenses. And the gap widens even more if a figure of 165 working hours per month is used.
At its convention on October 3-4, as an action policy, RENGO decided to promote campaigns to raise working conditions and establish work rules toward the realization of decent work. Regarding the minimum wage, RENGO will campaign for substantial increases in order to raise wage levels.

*The Minimum Wage Act stipulates that regional minimum wages shall be decided by the directors of prefectural Labour Bureaus under the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, taking the opinions of the Regional Minimum Wage Councils into account, but in practice the reports of the Regional Minimum Wage Councils are accepted verbatim.
**In calculating the living wage, RENGO sent surveyors to supermarkets and other stores in the city of Saitama, Saitama Prefecture, which is just within commuting distance to and from Tokyo, to calculate the minimum prices of the minimum items required for living, adding tax and social security expenses to the total

Minimum Wages in Japan
Rank Prefecture FY 2012
minimum wage
FY 2013 revised
minimum wage
  Rank Prefecture FY 2012
minimum wage
FY 2013 revised
minimum wage
Hourly Increase Rate of
increase
Hourly Increase Rate of
increase
A Tokyo 850 869 19 2.24% C Fukui 690 701 11 1.59%
Kanagawa 849 868 19 2.24% Wakayama 690 701 11 1.59%
Osaka 800 819 19 2.38% Yamaguchi 690 701 11 1.59%
Aichi 758 780 22 2.90% Niigata 689 701 12 1.74%
Chiba 756 777 21 2.78% Miyagi 685 696 11 1.61%
B Saitama 771 785 14 1.82% Kagawa 674 686 12 1.78%
Kyoto 759 773 14 1.84% D Fukushima 664 675 11 1.66%
Hyogo 749 761 12 1.60% Aomori 654 665 11 1.68%
Shizuoka 735 749 14 1.90% Akita 654 665 11 1.68%
Mie 724 737 13 1.80% Yamagata 654 665 11 1.68%
Hiroshima 719 733 14 1.95% Tokushima 654 666 12 1.83%
Shiga 716 730 14 1.96% Ehime 654 666 12 1.83%
Tochigi 705 718 13 1.84% Kagoshima 654 665 11 1.68%
Toyama 700 712 12 1.71% Iwate 653 665 12 1.84%
Nagano 700 713 13 1.86% Tottori 653 664 11 1.68%
Ibaraki 699 713 14 2.00% Saga 653 664 11 1.68%
C Hokkaido 719 734 15 2.09% Nagasaki 653 664 11 1.68%
Gifu 713 724 11 1.54% Kumamoto 653 664 11 1.68%
Fukuoka 701 712 11 1.57% Oita 653 664 11 1.68%
Nara 699 710 11 1.57% Miyazaki 653 664 11 1.68%
Gunma 696 707 11 1.58% Okinawa 653 664 11 1.68%
Yamanashi 695 706 11 1.58% Shimane 652 664 12 1.84%
Ishikawa 693 704 11 1.59% Kochi 652 664 12 1.84%
Okayama 691 703 12 1.74%   Weighted
average
749 764 15 2.02%
Note: The ranks are decided by the Central Minimum Wage Council, which proposes a benchmark increase for each rank. The ranks are determined according to such factors as wages, living expenses, economic conditions, and business conditions.
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