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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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 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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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)


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

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (n.d.). retrieved May 20, 2014, from 

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Living on minimum wage in Japan

Minimal Minimum Wage

Minimal Minimum Wage (Photo credit: PropagandaTimes)

by Tomohiro Doi

I am talking about minimum wage in Japan. In Japan, the minimum wage is determined. However, this tackling is relieved with Abe’s government and the workers are difficult to work and live and it is easy to run companies for the administration. Namely, it is easy to live for the administration and it is difficult to live for the workers in Japanese society.

If I get minimum wage in the future, if I am living by myself, it might not have any problems. However, if it is a part time work, in my old age, it is uneasy because it do not have social security and an employee pension. And if I get married to somebody and I become parent in the future, it is hard to support my family. In other thing, Japanese society will become the age of a declining birthrate and aging population more and more in the future. Households what the son support the son’s parents will increase. If I support my parents, it will be hard to manage to make a living more and more.

To think this problem about if I get minimum wage, first in Kyoto, the minimum wage is about 773 yen. In this wage, for instance, I work five days for a week and work for eight hours for a day. And its simple total is 6,184 yen for a day. For a week, its total is 30,920 yen. For a month, its total is 154,600 yen. However, this is simple total. If I am a part time worker, it is very difficult to work every day and to get 154,600 yen for a month because a non-regular employee is not stable, for instance even if the non-regular employee is taken on, it is rather difficult to get work and to get money.

Now, to think this, for example, I live in Kyoto in minimum wage. First, the most important thing is the place of live what is house. The market of house rent is about 40,000 yen. To deduct house rent from revenue, it is about 114,600 yen. Others one, most important thing is food. For a month, it is thought it is about 45,000 yen. This is 500 yen each a one meal and 1500 for a day. And the power, gas and water rate is collectively about 7000 yen. Therefore, what is left is 62,600 yen. At first sight, it has a surplus. However, it is extremely hard and it is as I say above so this life will be very harsh.

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