As you know, I started a new job at Gifu University this April. At the interview, they warned me that the pay was not very good, and they were right! My pay now is a lot lower than it was when I worked at a private university. To make things worse, my pay was cut by about 8% two months after I started. This was because of the government policy of reducing the pay of public servants, although national university teachers are not really public servants anymore.
Anyway, I love my job, so I can live with the bad pay, but I have been talking to a lot of people about this recently, and it seems that many of them are going through the same thing. Of course, everyone has heard on the news about the pay cuts at Sharp, and I think the same thing is happening at other electronics firms as well. And it’s not just the electronics sector; I have a friend whose husband works for one of the big Toyota Group companies, and she said his bonus is getting cut more and more every year. When I was in Hokkaido last week, I met a couple who work for the post office. They told me that both of them will have their winter bonus cut by 50% this year because of the weak economy.
The problem is not just one of falling pay. In April 2014, consumption tax in Japan is going to go up to 8%, and then it will rise to 10% the year after that. My worry is that with salaries falling and taxes rising, Japanese people are simply going to stop spending, and that will have a disastrous effect on the economy. I don’t understand why the politicians can’t see that, because exactly the same thing happened last time consumption tax was raised.
So, my questions this week are:
1) Have you heard any of your friends talking about having their salaries or bonuses cut recently?
2) Has the same thing happened to you or someone in your family?
3) Do you think raising the consumption tax is a good idea?
4) What effect do you think it will have on you?
Look forward to hearing your opinions.