Minimum Wage in Japan - Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a separate legislation relating to minimum wages in Japan?

Yes, there is a separate minimum wage legislation in Japan. Name of the Act is "Minimum Wages Act, Law No. 137 of April 15, 1959".

Do one or more minimum wages exist that is/are determined by law?

There are 2 type of Minimum wages in Japan. 1) 47 Regional Minimum wages and 2) industry specific minimum wages prescribed in 47 each regions.

At what level is minimum wage determined?

The Minimum Wages Act provides for 2 different categories of minimum wages: 1) regional minimum wages, which are to be decided across the board for each region nationwide. There are 47 minimum wages in each prefecture; and 2) special minimum wages, which may be set for specified businesses or occupations on the application of interested parties. Under Industry specific minimum wage there are two types (i) Regional specific industry minimum wage -233 industry specific minimum wages which is decided in each prefecture (ii) Nationwide specific minimum wage.

On what basis is minimum wage calculated?

Minimum Wage is calculated on hourly basis.

What are legal working hours in Japan?

Minimum wage is based on 40 hours a week and 8 hours per day.

Are governmental bodies, employer and/or trade union representatives involved in minimum wages setting?

According to Article 10 (1) of the Minimum Wage Act the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare or the Director of the Prefectural Labour Bureau shall call for study and deliberation by the Central Minimum Wage Council or the Local Minimum Wage Council (hereinafter referred to as the "Minimum Wage Councils") and decide on regional minimum wages for each region based on the opinion thereof.

How are upratings (adjustments) of minimum wage/s decided upon?

Government decides after tripartite or bipartite body discussions/recommendations (public committee, representatives of employee, representatives of employer).

Which are the components of minimum wage in Japan?

Minimum Wage has only fixed component.

What is/are the yardstick/s on which minimum wage upratings are based?

Minimum wage uprating is based on 1) cost of living, 2) wages of workers, 3) employer’s capacity to pay. Social security benefits is also considered while deciding minimum wage. When considering the cost of living of workers for the purposes of regional minimum wages, consistency with welfare benefit policies, in order to enable workers to maintain a minimum standard of wholesome and cultured living is also considered.

How is minimum wages compliance regulated?

Enforcement of the Minimum Wages Act is the responsibility of the Chiefs of the Labour Standards Inspection Offices and the Labour Standards Inspectors.

Which legal sanctions can be applied in compliance is lacking?

In case of noncompliance - the employer have to pay arrears from 2 years ago to now. And if he even doesn't pay it or he broke the law many times, then he should pay fine. Fine is prescribed by law, upto+F124 50,0000 yen. If the employer dismissed the employee by illegal situation or reason, he shall be punished by up to 6 months imprisonment.

Are sanctions often being applied?

Sanctions are rarely applied. Payment of arrears is always applied when labour inspector comes across the problem. However, due to lack of man power, sanctions are rarely applied.

Are employer and/or trade union representatives involved in compliance procedures?

Employer and trade union representatives are not involved in compliance procedures.

To whom/where can individuals complain, if they think they are earning less than minimum wage?

In case, individuals think they are earning less than minimum wage, they can first discuss with their employer or go to labour inspectorate or trade unions.

Which month of the year is minimum wage rate revised?

Minimum Wage is revised in October every year.