The struggle of living in Japan if you are earning minimum wage

by Kota Yanagidani

Wherever the society is, there is work by which people earn money to live; however, there is a wide range of income. In Japan, the system of the minimum wage is there, but there would not be the exact limit line. In continuing paragraphs, the situation of living with the minimum wage in contemporary Japan is discussed.

First of all, the simple calculation of living for a month with minimum wage is argued. Thinking about Osaka prefecture, minimum wage is 819 yen. The average house fee is 50,000 yen per a month. The Costs for electricity and gas could be approximately 5,000 yen. The food cost is about 10,000 yen per a week. In Japan, there is the insurance cost, which is around 5,000 yen per a month. Calculating all cost or fee, the sum is roughly 100,000 yen. Since the minimum wage is 819 yen per an hour, at least one has to work for about 130 hours. If one can work for 8 hours per a day, 17 days are needed to earn enough money to live.

Next, how could this life be possible? This means it looks very difficult for all citizen to get a job in which one can work for over 17 days in a month. As an average, normal salary man usually works for 20 days in a month. These jobs are at least full time job, but most people today work as a part-time worker, and for them, it is rare to work for 5 days every week like usual company man. Even more, that job is part-time job. People do often not work for whole day as a part-time job. That’s why one might have to work more than 17 days to earn money for life. However, under such situation, one cannot enjoy doing a hobby usually because hobbies cost us extra money, and also sometimes we have to buy something necessary to live. We need knife, cutting board, and a frying pan to cook. These kinds of things sometimes cost us a lot.

In conclusion, it is really difficult to live a life with the minimum wage. Thinking about my situation, in addition to above costs, the tuition and the transportation cost have to be considered. However, then the time cost emerge. We have to concern with time for work, because we have to do homework, study for test, and read books for getting knowledge. These things make us realize the difficulty of earning enough money to live with the minimum wage. In this situation, what could be sacrificed? Do you give up sleeping?

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Struggles of living in Japan

Anonymous student post

The minimum wage in Kyoto is 773 yen. It may be the limit to earn 6,000 to 8,000 yen in a day with minimum wage. The problem will be not serious when people can get only minimum wage if they have a family who supports them (such as university students doing a part time job). However there are many serious cases in Japan. Net café refugees can be taken as an example. Net café refugees can earn money for today, however they can’t earn money for saving even though they work as hard as they can do. They “usually rely on temporary work (haken) or day labor (hiyatoi)” (Allison 2013:44) and can get almost minimum wage in Japan.

Relying on unstable jobs and getting a low salary, people continually feel anxiety and they can’t maintain themselves both mentally and physically. A net café is like home, however “‘Home,’ when they find it in a net café, is decidedly unhomey” (Allison 2013:45). Furthermore many people have to worry about the job for tomorrow every night. They spend a day with the wage they get on that day, hence there are no foods and no place where they spend a night if they can’t find a job. Sometimes they are introduced too dangerous job from the temporary staff agency. Some employers might think poor people would do the hazardous job with bad condition because they couldn’t manage a day without the job.

There are not only net café refugees but also other people who are hired as irregular workers and live on the edge. It is difficult to get stable job without graduating high school or even university in Japanese modern society. People almost can’t get out the bad cycle of poverty if people leave the way of getting the life of stability once (giving up high school and so on). Some people are deprived of “a safety net, social support system, or reserves of almost any kind” (Allison 2013:45) and even hopes for the future. They lose most things that would support them and feel “devoid of hope or dreams for tomorrow” (Allison 2013:46). Their lost thing is not only them, but also ibasho.

There are many people who work with minimum wage or close to the minimum in Japan. If they live alone, it would be hard to live mentally, physically and financially. With minimum wage, people can’t use their time to enjoy much even are filled with anxiety and hopeless. Japan hold many people who have no ibasho and no hope. The bad cycle of hopeless should be solved as soon as possible and Japan should become the society filled with hope for tomorrow.

Reference

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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Minimum wage as a student

Anonymous student post

In my hometown, Hyogo, the minimum wage is 800 yen, but it is surprisingly 660 yen in Japan. It is very low. Furthermore, I live in Hyogo with my family, so I have no difficulty, although my wage is 770 yen. But, I would like to imagine when I have a part-time job at the minimum wage and live along in the city where the wage is lowest.

I have played basketball since I was eleven years old. I have practices about twice or three times a week, so I cannot work those days. I work for four hours a day and about three or four days a week. Calculating my monthly salary, the salary is about 39,600 yen. It might look not so low, but this is not true. This is because I must pay some expenses: gas, water, and electricity. In Japan, these expenses is totally 5,000 yen on the average, and the average food one is 25000 yen. Subtracting these expenditures from the salary, I have only 9,600 yen at hand. I cannot play with my friend and cannot even save money. I use it up at once.

It might be important for me to save money for my future. I cannot live at this rate. Therefore, I add to working day. If I worked about five or six days a week, I would earn about 80,000 yen. It is very higher wage than former one. However, there are some problems. First problem is that I cannot allot much time to study or do my assignments. This is because I think that students’ main occupation is learning. Second problem is that I cannot have a sufficient rest. If the working day increase, it is natural that working day falls on the day when I play basketball. Working too much makes me exhausted mentally and physically. This might lead mistakes on working and a falling of my concentration on studying. This is a vicious circle.

In order not to fall into the circle, I have to do something. For example, I ask my parents to provide a monthly allowance, economize on gas, water, and electricity fees, save board, and so on. There are many ways to get through the problems even though my wage is minimum.

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The Face of Japan’s Working Poor

by Yusuke Sugiyama

First, I researched the minimum wage in Japan and it is 764 yen, and surprisingly the minimum wage in Kyoto is actually 759 yen. When I find out the number, I was really surprised because I worked for 760 yen one hour when I was first year student. When I used to work for 760 yen one hour, I had been leading a little brutal life. I worked just once or twice a week and worked for three to four hours in a day because I had to do a lot of homework, so my income was about 10,000 to 25,000 yen one month. Fortunately since I rent an apartment from my uncle by free of rent money, I have my room and bed. Also my parent gives me 30,000 yen for cost of food every month, so I can use about 40.000 yen to 55,000 yen.

Compared with the people who live in net café, I had been leading a happy daily life, but I struggled against some pain. I used to eat instant ramen and fast food, and sometimes I suffered from hunger. Naturally, I cannot afford to go shopping and to make an excursion. However, I can maintain a decent standard of living because I have my house. If I had not had my house and friends, I would not have lived alone in Kyoto.

I think it is naturally for the people with temporary, part-time and short-time, which are called hiseiki, to stay such a place as net café and manga kissa. As Anne Allison said in Precarious Japan, those places are very convenient, and I thought that those places are ones where people enjoy reading a book and feel relaxed before I read the book; however, those places have serious problems.

One problem is that ordinary people have difficulty seeing net café nanmin in net café, so it is difficult to realize the problem. There are only the rooms which are individually divided by the wall, so they have few opportunities to interact with others. If I do not have much money, my house, my friends and my ibasho, I am sure not to live a life. However, there are a lot of people who are in similar situation in Japan.

I think that I can understand the danger of this style of working poor because I have experience to work for low wage. According to Allison, this is Japan’s new face of working poor. I also think we have to pay attention to this problem.

Reference

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press

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

Anonymous student post

“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.

References

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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The Struggle with Minimum Wage

by Yuri Muramatsu

Japan faces a difficult situation because the Japanese social system is about to collapse. I am a student now and I worked in a part-time job. I worked three days a week and I could earn about 30,000 yen per month. I accept monetary assistance from my parents but some people do not have parents or relatives so they have to make a living only on their own. I also accept a scholarship so if my parents cannot assist me, I will be able to manage my living cost by using it.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, people who earn under the minimum cost of living can receive welfare. Moreover, Anne Allison mentioned a woman who is haken (temporary worker) and is estranged from her parents. She could not accept any assistance. Her rent is now 35,000 yen per month but she used to live in a place that cost 100,000 yen a month. She tried to cut down her living cost but her working chances became smaller all the time. What is more, she has a disease.

Generally speaking, people who fulfill the following four condition can accept welfare. First, no one assists you, like parents or relatives. Second, you do not have any property. Third, you cannot work because of an illness or injury. If all these conditions are not fulfilled, you cannot get minimum living cost per month.

Considering this situation, if I earn minimum wage and I cannot accept any assistance from parents or relatives with legal age, I will face a lot of struggles. The minimum wage in Kyoto is 773 yen per hour. It means I can get about 154,600 yen per month in case of working 8 hours per day, 25 days per month. At first, I would face residential problems because my rent is now 48,000 per month. If I can only earn minimum wage, I cannot manage my living cost. I pay 88,000 as living costs like charge of water, gas, and electricity costs and administration costs. Although I can manage living cost at least, I cannot pay school expenses and I do not have time to go to university because I have to earn money to live. As a result of this situation, the only way is to quit university to manage my money. This may lead me to become a temporary worker like her. What is more, this may connect to death from overwork.

If I pay my school expenses, I must cut the living costs. One efficient way is moving to cheaper residence but I do not have enough money to move to another house. That is why I will be a net café refugee. Anne Allison shows that it is difficult for young people to receive welfare because they can still work. On the other hand, some think that “being young is not a reason for denying someone welfare” (p.56). I belong to a young generation so I will not receive any welfare. Therefore, I can only rely on my friends. It is important to have connectedness. But if I rely too much on my friends, I will lose them and my credit. Regaining trust is difficult and it takes a long time. When I lose connectedness, I need some support from others. Then an “Independent life support center” is instrumental for me to find independence. Allison says finding independence is hard.

To sum up my opinion, if I am earning minimum wage, I cannot manage my living costs so I try to make a living by cutting down my rent. There are possibilities to be a net café refugee. I would face many struggle in terms of human relations.

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Living in Japan on minimum wage

Masatoshi Yamamoto

According to Anne Allison‘s Precarious Japan, we can see that Japan is very precarious now. Japan has a lot of serious social problems such as kakusa shakai, muen shakai, ikizurasa and so on, and there are a lot of people who can’t have hope for their future because of such problems. The precariat and the working poor are kinds of these people. Precariat means irregular workers, and working poor is people who can’t get enough wages, although they are working hard. Why are there so many precarious people in Japan? Why is Japan so precarious? I am worried about my future because I read this book and knew many serious facts in recent Japan.

In recent Japan, the number of net café dwellers is increasing. Many of them are irregular workers or jobless people, and the working poor are a kind of irregular workers. The working poor work as hard as regular workers every day, but they get wages less than those of regular workers. Moreover, a day labor earns on average 6000 to 8000 yen for one day, and it is difficult to live in Japan. Many people live in net cafés, though they are working. The reason is because the minimum age is very low in Japan. They can’t get enough wages to live on.

I can’t have clear image in my future yet, and I don’t know what kind of job I want to get. However, I want to work in a company and be a regular worker to get a stable salary to live. Nowadays, it is difficult for youths to find a job, and many of them become irregular workers. Therefore, maybe I will become an irregular worker if I can’t get my ideal job in my job search. If I become an irregular worker and earn wage that is close to minimum wage, I will hold a demonstration against the government or local community. I think that there are a lot of people who have same idea, so we should argue that the minimum wage is too low to live. The system of minimum wage will not change if we do something.

Our parents pay a lot of taxes, and I think that the government has some extra money because of the large amount of taxes. If it is true, I want government to provide funds to each local community. I wonder why the minimum wages are different among local communities. I hope these issues about minimum wage will be debated in Japanese society more than ever.

Reference

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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Can We Survive If We Just Earn Minimum Wage?

Anonymous student post

Each of the prefectures in Japan has a regulation about the minimum wage. Actually, it greatly differs between rural areas and big cities. For example, the highest minimum wage is 869 yen an hour in Tokyo. On the other hand, the lowest of it is 664 yen an hour in 9 prefectures. With the information, we can understand that there is big distinction of 200 yen. This seems to be great difference. Well, how are actual lives when it comes to workers in such a situation? Are there real differences? And how do they live every day?

In my opinion, there might not have a big difference by minimum wage in real lives. I’ll list 2 points. First, commodity prices are different in each place. As it is, rural areas’ prices are lower than big cities’. In other words, it can be said that minimum wage is fitted by commodity prices. Secondary, the lives of workers who earn minimum wage is surely severe however minimum wage is. The difference by minimum wage is almost nothing, but living with it is very hard.

In class, we have already discussed the monthly expenses and income of an imaginary person who works for minimum wage. He is a student and needs money for foods, lighting and heating, clothes, mobile phone and Internet. It looks difficult to make it by himself, and he can’t live without a remittance from his family. But to earn minimum wage does not make it hard to live. Depending on only a part time job really makes the lives precarious. Imagine that, can you say that your life in working is not precarious anymore if you get a job which you can earn 1200 yen? Maybe you can not say yes. Many part time jobs do not have enough welfare system. It is difficult for them to take care of workers. A part time job itself makes precarious.

For developing the current situation, government must make more rule for people who have part time jobs. As for us, we must care about not only minimum wage but treatment when we look for part time jobs. The most important factor is not money but one’s situation. Finally, minimum wage never makes workers precarious. (Of course, students should care about that)

Reference

Anne Allison. (2013). Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (n.d.). retrieved May 20, 2014, from http://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/seisakunitsuite/bunya/koyou_roudou/roudoukijun/minimumichiran/ 

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Lost dreams and happiness on minimum wage

Anonymous student post

I imagine that if I were earning minimum wage, maybe many things and chances that I have gotten would be lost. I think the most important problem is that I would not go to school. Of course, this includes Ritsumeikan University because this university is under private management, so school expenses are so high. I and my parents may not be able to pay money for Ritsumeikan, so I could not make many friends, and get chances that help me approach my dream and my interesting things. I’ll think about what is happened if I am earning minimum wage, concretely.

First, I would not have a dream, get more ambition, and come true. Many people had experience that they want to be a pilot, a baker, a police officer, and so on. I also had such a dream. However, if I am in poverty, these dreams are separated because for these dreams to come true, we need a lot of money. We can learn and study without money, but the chance is much smaller than for people who are rich. So many people who earn minimum wage tend to not be regular employees, and they tend to lose their hopes and their future plans. If they had sufficient money, they would be able to have dreams and have eagerness that is to come true.

Second, this is so serious problem for mental health, as I would not be happy in my mind. I think poverty connects to happiness. Some people say that we can feel happy without money. But in fact, this is so difficult. If I don’t have money, I cannot eat foods satisfactorily, and cannot get some items that I want. I think buying things that people want to is so important for happiness. I think poverty, and poor happiness, cause suicide.

“Shockingly, he realized, poverty had come to Japan. And as shocking to him was how little attention the subject was being given by the public or the press.” I was impressed by this sentence by Anne Allison. I think, in Japan, from many years ago, poverty has existed. During World War 2, Japanese people were suffering from poverty, and after WW2 also were suffering. But some people realized recently that poverty is so serious problem for Japan “too”. Of course I knew, “homeless” people existed in Japan, and I had seen them. But I think if the problem is ignored, it will become larger more and more.

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The difficulty of living in Japan on minimum wage

Anonymous student post

Last year, the UN reported that the minimum wage in Japan is lowest in developed countries. The wage in Japan is 764 yen per hour on average, and the lowest is 664 yen per hour in the areas of Kyusyu in 2013. So now, Japanese government worked out a raise in the minimum wage. This is the one of the measures of poverty in Japan. But, even this measure has doubt that whether it really has good effect for the workers who are working for minimum wage. The following, I will mention that the present state of minimum wage workers and how they live in Japan every day. And what I think the Japanese government should do for them.

Now, 77 percent of workers in Japan are irregular workers, and almost of them fall into the ranks of the working poor (Yuasa 2009). On average, they can earn only minimum wage as 6,000 yen to 8,000 yen for a day. This paycheck is too hard to live on in Japan. Currently Japan has problems with the working poor and net café refugees, whose numbers are rising. Net café refugees are people who temporarily live in internet cafés, karaoke boxes, or comic book cafes. Net café refugees don’t have a residence because almost of them are non-regular employees and temp workers, and they don’t have enough money to pay rent for an apartment. In addition, it is difficult for them to get a regular job, because they don’t have an address. So the intention of the corporations, they don’t want to employees who don’t have address at the point of credibility.

Japanese government is working out a raise in minimum wage as a measure. But the measure focuses on workers under working minimum wage, it mainly part-time workers such as students and housewife. So net café refugees and non-regular workers don’t fit subject in the measure. This measure would become difficult for net café refugees or NEET, because corporations want high quality of employees.

If people become minimum wage employees, they would suffer from various obstacles and problems. At that time, if minimum wage workers have family or people they can rely on, they would be supported by other people around them, but if the workers live alone, they wouldn’t have people who can assist them. Therefore, in that case, the workers can’t get enough money and support to live in Japan. So I think that the increase in the divorce rate and unmarried rate are related to the increasing working poor and some problems such as net café refugees. Japanese government should be prepare measures not only rising in minimum wage, but also supporting systems for them who live alone or don’t have an address.

References

Allison, Anne. (2013) Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press

Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center http://www.hurights.or.jp/archives/newsinbrief-ja/section3/2013/05/post-85.html

Taguchi, Norio. (2010) The role and limits of the minimum wage system. Iwate: Iwate University Bulletin.

Yuasa, Makoto (2008) Hanhinkon ”Suberidai shakai” kara no dasshutsu. Tokyo: Iwanami shinsho.

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