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For one Japanese salaryman, nearly a decade of $4 annual pay rises -Breaking


© Reuters. An office building is seen in Tokyo by a businessman on January 23, 2019, Japan. REUTERS/Issei Kato


By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters] – Masamitsu, a Japanese accountant, hasn’t been to the movies in many years. He also rarely eats out.

His annual salary, which is approximately $34,000 per year, goes towards his family. It has increased by only $4 per annum for almost a decade.

“I cannot save. I don’t have anything to put aside for my old years.” The 50-year-old said, “I will just have to continue working,” referring to his small business that specializes in event planning.

“After I leave this company, there’s no stopping me from doing whatever I want.” You could even be a security officer.

Masamitsu’s plight mirrors the plight of many employees at medium and small-sized Japanese firms. The average wage in Japan in 2020 was $38,515, a little less than the $49,165 average in countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishhida has called on profitable businesses to raise wages during spring wage negotiations. This is when blue-chip firms’ managements meet with key unions to discuss fixing wages for the next year. It also sets a benchmark for other companies.

Expect the end of this year’s negotiations to be on Wednesday

Masamitsu was an accounting student at a vocational college. He switched to a new job at 43 after his former employer reduced his salary.

After many unsuccessful interviews, he was happy to get his job. But, for the first 10 years, raises were only 500 yen ($4.25) each year.

He stated that, given my age, the basic pay was actually not bad and there were places with lower salaries. “And it was said that the base pay would go up by 5,000 Japanese yen per year after 10 years.”

Masamitsu earns about 250,000yen per month, plus allowances which are typical in Japan. Additionally, he receives two months of pay bonus twice each year, for an annual total of around 4 million yen (or $34,000).

He said, “It is kind of sad it doesn’t increase more, even though my efforts are hard.”

He supports his wife with this amount, who also works part time to supplement their income.

To keep fit, he does yoga with some friends through YouTube videos. He also occasionally purchases a 1-day gym membership to attend yoga classes.

He stated, “I would love to have another baby but this one has taken everything that we have”

His hope is low that Kishida’s insistence will bring about any significant change.

He said, “This type of thing doesn’t really reach people who live in areas like mine.” “Officials tell a lot things that don’t work.”

($1=118.3100 yen)