Japan Data

Money and Labor Shortages: Changes Affecting People’s Lives in Japan from April 2024

Economy Society Lifestyle Health

April 2024 in Japan sees rises in prices and wages, overtime caps for truck drivers and doctors, and the start of ride-sharing services.

End of COVID-19 Treatment Subsidies

As of April 1, patients no longer receive special financial support from the government for COVID-19 treatment. For example, a five-day treatment of Shionogi’s Xocova drug costs over ¥15,000 for patients with a 30% copay rate. Vaccinations for seniors aged 65 and older will be available annually with a maximum out-of-pocket cost of ¥7,000. Those under 65 may voluntarily receive vaccines, for which they will in principle pay the full amount.

Increased Medical Premiums for People 75 and Over

People aged 75 and over with pension income of ¥2.11 million or more, a group of around 5.4 million, must pay increased medical premiums with an average rise of ¥4,100.

Increase in Nursing-Care Insurance Premiums

Nursing-care insurance premiums increase for seniors who have a combined annual income of ¥4.2 million or more. The aim is to align costs with the ability to pay, limiting rises for people with low incomes.

Food Prices Rise Further

A Teikoku Databank survey of 195 major food companies found price increases for more than 2,800 products in April, focusing on processed foods, with more than 2,000 products seeing price hikes.

Price Hikes for Delivery Services

Yamato Transport raises delivery prices, including for large and refrigerated packages, by an average of 2.0%. Sagawa raises its basic rates by an average of around 7.0%. Delivery companies face the “2024 problem,” an expected labor shortage due to overtime caps for drivers introduced on April 1, as well as increased fuel and other costs, and are trying to meet these by improving conditions for employees and delivery contractors.

Wage Rises

Figures as of March 21 prepared by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengō) show an average wage rise of 5.25% at companies where its unions are based.

Overtime Caps

Based on the revised Labor Standards Act, overtime caps begin from April 1, limiting drivers of trucks and other vehicles to 960 hours of annual overtime and construction workers to 720 hours. The limit for physicians is 1,860 for reasons that include the need to maintain the medical system outside of major cities. The caps are expected to bring labor shortages and may affect services.

Start of Ride-Sharing Services

Ride-sharing services begin on April 1 in some areas of four prefectures: Tokyo, Kanagawa, Aichi, and Kyoto. The services are managed by taxi companies and fares are the same as for taxis. The aim is to cover shortages of taxis in tourist spots and elsewhere. From May, services will begin in districts of Sapporo, Sendai, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka.

Civil Code Revision on Fatherhood

A change to the Civil Code does away with an antiquated statute that stipulated a baby born within 300 days of a woman divorcing was the child of the former husband. This had led to the problem of mothers not registering their children. Under the revision, a baby born after a woman remarries following a divorce is now assumed to be the child of the new husband. The change also removes a ban on women remarrying within 100 days of divorce.

The Imperial Family on Instagram

The Imperial Household Agency starts a new Instagram account on which it will mainly post pictures of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako’s activities.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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