Race to avoid title of lowest minimum wage sweeps Japan
Nikkei -- Aug 04
The southern Japanese prefecture of Kagoshima desperately wants to lose the distinction of paying the lowest minimum wage among Japan's 47 prefectures, after falling short of its closest rival by just 1 yen (1 cent) last time.

Each prefecture decides how much to raise its hourly minimum wage through labor-management talks, using a Labor Ministry panel's recommendations as a reference. Twenty-three exceeded the recommendation in fiscal 2018 -- among them Kagoshima, on the island of Kyushu. But the prefecture sat alone at the bottom.

The panel divides the prefectures into four groups based on such factors as economic strength. The recommended wage hike for the group that includes Kagoshima is 26 yen for fiscal 2019. The national average is 27 yen.

"We will closely watch the other prefectures in Kyushu, excluding Fukuoka," said a Kagoshima prefectural government official, revealing a desire to avoid having a lower minimum wage than every other prefecture.

Should each prefecture follow the recommendation, Kagoshima's minimum wage would rise to 787 yen. But it would lose to such nearby prefectures as Kumamoto, Oita and Nagasaki by 1 yen.

Kagoshima raised the minimum wage by 24 yen in fiscal 2018, 1 yen more than recommended. Other prefectures with which it was tied for last place before then -- including Kumamoto and Oita -- exceeded the recommendation by 2 yen.

News source: Nikkei
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