Prime Minister Fumio Kishida Participates in May Day and Expresses Support for Wage Increases
On April 29, the 94th May Day Central Conference was hosted at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (RENGO). Tomoko Yoshino, the President of RENGO, mentioned that improvement of wages at a high level not seen in 30 years had been achieved in the 2023 spring labour struggle. To ensure that people feel that “wages have increased” and “life has become easier” throughout society, wage increases need to be implemented in small- and medium-sized enterprises where 70% of Japan’s workers are employed. President Yoshino also emphasized the need for diversity to be respected in society and called for solidarity among workers to achieve the May Day slogans of “a society of mutual support and assistance” and “a future full of smiles.”
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Katsunobu Kato, and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike also attended as guests and gave speeches in solidarity.
Prime Minister Kishida stated that he wanted to boost the momentum for wage increases and that wage increases were the most important issue for the New Capitalism. He pledged to make every effort to extend this momentum to local regions and to small- and medium-sized enterprises. In order to sustain this wage increase structurally, he proposed a tripartite reform of reskilling for improved capabilities, the introduction of wages based on job evaluation, and labour mobility into growth areas. He also stated that Japan’s economy should move forward with strong wage increases, overseas investment, inbound tourism, and the New Capitalism, and should ride a higher growth path.
Minister Kato mentioned that this year’s wage increase was at an unusually high level due to negotiations in good faith between labour and management. He pledged to expand this momentum and work on strict compliance with equal pay for equal work as part of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s efforts to strengthen compliance this month. He also mentioned that discussions on the minimum wage are scheduled to begin, and that the revised positioning of COVID-19* will present opportunities to link economic growth, wage increases, and productivity improvements to the development of the economy.
* Japan’s downgrading of COVID-19 to a “Class 5” disease (on par with influenza) from May 8.
Governor Yuriko Koike, who supports May Day, expressed her gratitude for being able to utilize in her policies the real-world voices of essential workers under the umbrella of trade unions and all those who have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, workstyles have changed and digitization has advanced further due to the introduction of teleworking. However, we need to advance digital transformation (DX) even further. People must always remain as the main players in pioneering the future. Tokyo Metropolitan Government will conduct an annual reskilling project for about 20,000 people. It will also accelerate efforts to share the important job of child-rearing among both men and women. Governor Koike stated her commitment to realizing a sustainable future, starting from Tokyo.