Can we live in minimum wage in Japan?

by Misaki Kosaka

Nowadays the number of the poor is increasing in Japan. Especially, people who work as irregular workers (hiseiki koyo) have been noticeable since the deregulation of irregular jobs was enforced. However do irregular jobs make a true profit for Japan? There are workers who can’t even pay their rent because of low wages. So, they are forced to part with their home and start living at a net cafe or sleeping in the open. According to Anne Allison‘s Precarious Japan, haken or hiyatoi workers earn 6000 to 8000 yen for one day on average. They earn only wages that they can live in a day. But this wage is merely average, then their wages differ from day to day. In the day the workers receive very low payment, they can’t hardly eat in the day.

Like this, irregular jobs have very unstable and uneasy factors. Workers can’t save money to rent an apartment due to these negative factors. Furthermore, they hesitate to go to hospital when they are injured or have a high fever because they can’t afford to pay for medical insurance. Even if irregular workers are in bad condition, they have to work hard for living. In addition, most of them don’t receive any industrial accident compensation insurance when accidents happen. As a result, their health worsens and it makes them hard to get a regular job.

I think that this vicious cycle will not be solved without a governmental intervention. In the past, almost all the homeless were elderly men, but the young homeless are increasing these days. Although the young homeless without relatives who lose their job, or work as a part-time worker for a long time, may stay overnight at their friends for few days, after that they will spend night at a fast food restaurant. Then, they will put up with a net café and be finally street person. If they have relatives, they will be NEET or hikikomori.

Anne Allison says that poverty is not just a matter of economics. I think so. People who earn only minimum wage don’t get not only an economic happiness but also non-economic. As this book says, one can’t get and have kids on low wages or with a wage level that doesn’t increase as one gets older. They can’t earn enough money to support their future family.

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7 thoughts on “Can we live in minimum wage in Japan?

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