Lawson Inc. will raise salaries for younger employees by around 3 percent to increase disposable income and encourage spending, a move in keeping with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's strategy for ending deflation, dubbed "Abenomics."
Takeshi Niinami, president of the major convenience store chain, who is a member of the government's Industrial Competitiveness Council, reportedly said the pay hike was being implemented at the "request" of the Abe administration.
"If younger generations, who have a higher motivation for spending, earn more, they will contribute to getting the economy out of deflation," a Lawson spokesperson said.
About 3,300 workers--mainly those in their late 20s to 40s at Lawson and its subsidiary Ninety-nine Plus Inc. and Lawson HMV Entertainment Inc.--will enjoy an average total raise of 150,000 yen ($1,600) in this year's bonuses.
Those workers account for 65 percent of the companies' total employees.
Employees with junior high school or younger children will receive higher increases, depending on the number of such children, Lawson said.
Cabinet ministers have welcomed the plan, with Taro Aso, deputy prime minister and finance minister, praising it at a news conference Feb. 8 after a Cabinet meeting.
“It is good to see it happen, even if it is only by one company,” he said. Aso called for other firms to follow suit, rather than stockpiling internal reserves.
Meanwhile, Akira Amari, the minister in charge of economic revitalization, told reporters that he was informed of the plan by Niinami.
Amari quoted the Lawson president as saying, "Our company will implement it at the request of the Abe administration."
The outline of tax system revisions for fiscal 2013, proposed by the ruling coalition, says that companies that increase employees' pay by 5 percent or more from the previous year will receive a corporate tax deduction equal to 10 percent of the pay increase.
This tax break will be a special measure lasting three years, beginning from fiscal 2013.
The ruling parties put forth the measure under the belief that even if corporate performance picks up thanks to a large supplementary budget and credit easing, consumer spending will not rise unless employees' pocketbooks get a boost too.
Lawson's 3 percent pay increase for part of its workers is not enough to qualify for the tax deduction, but the firm is considering other salary and bonus raises, on the back of the company's good business performances.
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