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National Average Minimum Wage Increased to 798 Yen for FY 2015

The national average hourly minimum wage for fiscal 2015 has been raised to 798 yen, up 18 yen over the previous fiscal year. The margin of increase is the same as the level proposed on July 29 by the tripartite Central Minimum Wage Council (comprising public, labour, and management representatives). After the Central Minimum Wage Council indicated its guidelines, tripartite Regional Minimum Wage Councils discussed minimum wage levels in each prefecture. All of the prefectural councils submitted final reports by August 24, and the new levels will take effect by prefecture from October 1 to 18.

Tokyo has the highest minimum wage of 907 yen, an increase of 19 yen. Second comes Kanagawa with 905 yen. Four prefectures, including Okinawa and Tottori, have the lowest minimum wage of 693 yen. Although these four prefectures increased the amount by 16 yen, their minimum wages are still more than 200 yen lower than Tokyo's.

The guidelines for fiscal 2015 prefectural minimum wages announced by the Central Minimum Wage Council on July 29 were a national average hike of 18 yen (2.31%) and regional increases of 19 yen for A rank, 18 yen for B rank, 16 yen for C rank, and 16 yen for D rank prefectures. While 10 prefectures decided on increases above these guidelines, one prefecture (Kanagawa) settled on a figure below the yardstick.

Since the average hourly wage of ordinary workers in 2014 was 1,953 yen, the fiscal 2014 minimum wage (national average of 780 yen) was the equivalent of 39.9% of an ordinary worker's wage.

Regarding the minimum wage hikes for the current fiscal year, since unlike in previous years the guidelines this time showed only small differences between the ranks, RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) welcomed them as putting a halt to the widening gaps between ranks. RENGO also stated, however, that it was a pity the discussions again covered only the margin of increase and did not go as far as addressing the issue of desirable minimum wage levels.

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