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Japan lifts minimum wage again as labor shortage deepens

Small businesses look to price hikes and productivity growth to ease the blow

Japan's labor crunch has driven up wages for part-timers in urban areas, in many cases well beyond the minimum.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan plans to raise its minimum wage benchmark by about 3% for a third straight year in fiscal 2018 amid a severe labor shortage, sending companies scrambling to improve productivity to absorb the increased costs.

A labor ministry panel will recommend Thursday that the national average minimum hourly wage should be lifted by a record 26 yen to 874 yen ($7.88). Individual prefectures will adjust their own minimum wages based on this benchmark, with the changes to take effect in October.

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