I have worked on and on, yet my life does not get easier

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“Hatarakedo hatarakedo nao waga kurashi raku ni narazari jitto tewo miru”

This is the poem written by Takuboku Ishikawa. The rough translation of this is “I have worked on and on, yet my life does not get easier, and I stare at my hands.” Though the time this poem was made is different from current situation, I think what he felt toward poor workers could apply to the present world. As he expresses, current poor workers cannot get out of the negative spiral. In this paper, I would like to analyze the minimum wage and the struggles of the people earning minimum wage.

Firstly, I want to compare the minimum wage in some areas. My hometown is Kochi, which is pretty rural, and now I live in Kyoto, which is relatively urban, so I would like to compare the minimum wage of the two regions. According to the data of Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in 2012, the minimum wage in Kochi is 652 yen per hour, which is one of the lowest wages in Japan, and that in Kyoto is 759 yen per hour, which is the fifth in Japan. Supposed you are working eight hours a day and five days a week, you would earn 104,320 yen per month and 1,251,840 per year in Kochi. On the other hand, your income would be 121,440 per month and 1,457,280 yen per year in Kyoto. This calculation is quite rough, but you can imagine how much there are differences depending on the region. In addition, it seems too hard to maintain your life on the minimum wage, therefore, you have to work longer hours in order to live your humane life.

Secondly, if you were working for minimum wage, one of the struggles you would face is that you have fewer opportunities to enhance your skills or to build relationships with other people. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, minimum wage workers must work for a longer time. However, they would less money than usual company workers. Put simply, minimum wage workers have less free time and less money. From these factors, they have less opportunity to improve their skills to get higher jobs. They have less time and money to gain the license or competence to promote their job or to get regular job.

In the end, their type of employment and wage does not change much. In addition, because of the lack of time and money, they also have less opportunity to make relationship with others, who share something such as hobbies, goals or skills. The connection with other people would bring you some ibasho to enrich your life and also useful information for your job carrier. It can be said that the less relationship you have with others, the less opportunity you have to get things which would be benefit for you.

In conclusion, minimum wage workers are in a kind of ant lion. It seems to be difficult to deal with their situation without any support. When they try to get off there, someone’s help is necessary.


Chiikibetsu saiteichingin ranking [the ranking of regional minimum wage in Japan] (n.d.) MEMORVA. Retrieved form http://memorva.jp/ranking/japan/mhlw_saiteichingin_2012.php

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