By on February 13, 2014

Auto Worker at Japanese Honda Factory

Labor unions across Japan are seeking increases in base salaries and bonuses as local manufacturers pull in record profits for the closing fiscal year.

Bloomberg reports the unions will gather for their annual spring labor negotiations to ask automakers for an increase in bonuses equal to five months’ salary, with Toyota to receive a request for a 4,000 yen increase in monthly wages in addition to a bonus amounting to 6.8 months of salary; only Nissan will fail to post record profits come April 1.

The requests mark the first time in 15 years unions have asked for such increases, according to Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions president Yasunobu Aihara:

“The Japanese economy is at a major turning point. To end the prolonged deflation and to ensure the nation’s economy will revive and grow sustainably, all member unions decide to ask for an increase in monthly base pay.”

The turning point is the work of current Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose economic reforms — dubbed Abenomics — spurred a 51 percent advance in the Topix index last year while also weakening the yen 18 percent against the dollar in the same period. The PM has urged all Japanese corporations to give some of their windfall profits to their workers in an effort to combat the possibility of a stalled economy as a result of wages failing to keep up with inflation.

“Japan can’t wait one or two years for salary gains, which are needed sooner for the economy to enter a virtuous cycle of rising profits, wages and growth,” said Deputy Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura late last year while Abe met with business and union leaders to work out wage increases tied to increased profits.

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