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Race to avoid title of lowest minimum wage sweeps Japan

Kagoshima hopes to shed dubious honor after losing by 1 yen last time

A part-time worker arranges vegetables at a supermarket. (Photo by Kosaku Mimura)

TOKYO -- The southern Japanese prefecture of Kagoshima desperately wants to lose the distinction of paying the lowest minimum wage among Japan's 47 prefectures, after falling short of its closest rival by just 1 yen (1 cent) last time.

Each prefecture decides how much to raise its hourly minimum wage through labor-management talks, using a Labor Ministry panel's recommendations as a reference. Twenty-three exceeded the recommendation in fiscal 2018 -- among them Kagoshima, on the island of Kyushu. But the prefecture sat alone at the bottom.

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