Japan’s new stimulus to include wage hikes for care workers, nurses

Nov 12 , 2021. 12 hours ago – 21:00 KYODO NEWS

TOKYO – Japan’s new stimulus package with fiscal spending expected to exceed 30 trillion yen ($263 billion) will include wage hikes for care workers, nursery school staff and nurses, government sources said Thursday.

The monthly salaries of such workers, whose pay is regulated and said to be insufficient compared with other industries, will be raised by 3 percent, or 9,000 yen, in February, according to the sources.

The package aimed at easing the pain from the coronavirus pandemic will be finalized by the government on Nov. 19 following Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s pledge during campaigning for last month’s general election to achieve economic growth and narrow wealth disparities.

The government is seeking to pass a supplementary budget during an extraordinary parliamentary session to be convened by year-end to fund the package, which will also include a subsidy program for domestic tourism and financial support for struggling households and students.

Some measures will also be financed by a budget for the next fiscal year starting April.

In Japan, the average monthly income, including bonuses, was 352,000 yen in 2020. But care workers and children’s nurses earned 293,000 yen and 303,000 yen, respectively, on average per month.

The government’s regulation of hospital and care facility charges makes wage increases difficult, even if there is a labor shortage.

However, as the average income of nurses is higher than that of all other sectors, the pay rise will be limited to those working at key medical facilities tasked with emergency care.

To support child-rearing, the government will widen the scope of households that are eligible to receive rent subsidies if they live in designated houses and apartments.

For a household consisting of two parents and three children, the income cap will be relaxed from the current annual 4.95 million yen to 6.46 million yen, according to the sources.

Kishida said in a press conference after being re-elected prime minister by parliament on Wednesday that the government will provide handouts of 100,000 yen to students facing financial difficulties to help them pay tuition fees.

The financial help will be given to students attending university, college and junior college who are from low-income families and struggling with pay cuts in their part-time jobs amid the pandemic, the sources said.

Cr. KYODO NEWS