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Abe oblivious to people's hardships, says tabloid

49 Comments

The brickbats wouldn't stop flying: "You've got no idea what it's really like to be poor!" exclaimed one. "Is this Marie Antoinette, telling us to go eat cake?" muttered another.

The point of contention, reports Nikkan Gendai (Jan 13) came after committee budget deliberations in the House of Representatives on Jan 8. When a member from the opposition pointed out that under the government's proposed plan a reduction in real wages would inevitably result, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to the effect that, "Let's say I'm a company worker making 500,000 yen a month, and my wife works at a part-time job for 250,000 yen a month. This way, our combined monthly income rises to 750,000 yen. But naturally the average declines if you divide the figure by two."

Abe's remarks were echoed on the Internet, where they attracted a storm of angry responses. Well, the tabloid sneers, it's just the kind of thing you'd expect from a "bon-bon" (privileged rich boy) who takes home 2 million yen a month, and who seems to be unaware of that the untaxed ceiling on spouse earnings is only 1.03 million yen per year.

To wit, most wives working part time try to keep their annual income below that figure, which works out to 80,600 yen a month. "The only way to make 250,000 yen a month at a part-time job would be to 'sell spring' at a sex shop," a Nagatacho insider sneered. "An ordinary person earning an hourly wage of 1,000 yen and working eight hours a day for 20 days would earn 160,000 yen per month. The reactions to Abe's uninformed remarks were more widespread than anyone could have imagined."

What's more, the statistics for November 2015 from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show that Abe's sample income figures are far off the mark. The average wage earners take-home pay was 274,108 yen; and the average for part timers was 96,638 yen. As far as Nikkan Gendai is concerned, Abe's figures are akin to the haughty suggestion allegedly issued by France's queen for the breadless hoi polloi to dine on cake instead.

To add insult to injury, Abe on Jan 10 was quoted on an NHK program as saying that in April 2017, he would proceed with the increase in the consumption tax to 10% "as planned, irrespective of the business environment."

With the increase in consumption tax from 5% to 8%, individual consumption completely froze," points out economic pundit Hiroko Hagiwara. "Yet Abe persisted with his delusional three-arrow economic stimulus. If individual consumption accounts for some 60% of the gross domestic product, then how does he expect to raise it to 600 trillion yen? I suppose he's not considering the realities of people's livelihood. Along with raising the tax he's also boosting withholdings for social pensions. When the prices of commodities go up without a commensurate rise in wages, then household budgets dry up. There's no other way to put it but another tax increase would be reckless."

Nikkan Gendai noticed another disturbing phenomenon. In 1997, when the 3% consumption tax underwent its first increase to 5%, the year-on-year increase in suicides went up by over 8,000, pushing the total annual figure past the 30,000 mark for the first time. Economic hard times were believed to be the main cause. While the total dropped to the 20,000 range following the mini-bubble started by Abe in 2012, the present situation, with the Chinese economy in freefall and decline in oil prices, bears many similarities with 1997, with the Tokyo stock market plunging and the yen once again rising in value. And who knows, perhaps suicides will shoot past 30,000 once again.

Finance Minister Taro Aso, an ardent supporter for increasing the tax, previously infuriated the public with his arrogant estimate that a humble cup of instant noodles might someday retail for 400 yen. If that does come to pass, Nikkan Gendai can think of no end more fitting for Abe and his cabinet than the same fate that befell Marie Antoinette.

© Japan Today

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49 Comments
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Why is anyone surprised that Abe is clueless to reality?

34 ( +35 / -1 )

Oblivious? Your hardship is part of the plan. Self-sacrifice and the good ol' days, that's what it's all about. You're supposed to shut up and do your duty to the nation and keep watching those romantic WWII movies about kamikaze pilots giving their all. Those are your role models under the LDP.

22 ( +25 / -3 )

Commodore - you are not wrong. There is nothing the Japanese like more than a feeling of being hard done by, of valiantly gamanning through hardship and victimhood. The idea of making things better seems an alien concept here.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Lucky I didn't eat any breakfast this morning... I wouldn't have been able to keep it down... Dear Leader, you make me sick to my stomach...

22 ( +22 / -0 )

My humble suggestion to any Japanese on a fixed income is to move to the Philippines or such other developing country basically friendly to Japan. There are Japan communities there where your yen will go a lot farther. This old bird dog may eventually have to settle in Panama or Costa Rica.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

There are Japan communities there where your yen will go a lot farther.

Do you remember back in the bubble years when there were plans to place aging Japanese in facilities in foreign countries?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

George Carlin on World Leaders:

Smug, greedy, well-fed former frat boys have invented a language to conceal their sins. It’s as simple as that. Police states don’t kill anybody anymore, they neutralize people, or they depopulate the area. The government doesn’t lie, it engages in disinformation. Then they talk about having to sacrifice. Sure, granny sacrifices her daily can of cat food for a saltine, but the fat cats sacrifice cheap champagne for Dom Perrignon. They do not want a population educated to know they are getting sc**wed. They want a population just barely literate enough to be compliant workers.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

I'm not a fan of Abe, but criticism ought to be fair.

Who doesn't use round numbers when giving examples? (What if his "wife" is actually highly educated, skilled and in demand and worth that much in her part-time job?)

If Abe had used below average numbers in his example, people would have instead been bashing him for assuming that his own economic management was a failure (which it is, but that's not the point).

Abe’s sample income figures are far off the mark

Unfair. He used the income numbers as examples to explain the drop in real wages, not to suggest that they were average incomes.

With the increase in consumption tax from 5% to 8%, individual consumption completely froze,” points out economic pundit Hiroko Hagiwara.

Oh? Where is this mysterious "complete freeze"? Consumption tax revenues came in above forecast for the first year of the 8% rate. The 5 trillion yen in extra consumption tax revenue would not have eventuated if consumption froze.

The only freeze was a temporary blip, as people who had bought stuff before the hike didn't need to buy that stuff immediately after it. But that came and went.

“Yet Abe persisted with his delusional three-arrow economic stimulus.

Hardly. Abe had the BOJ print a whole load of yen, but made little change at all as far as the other two arrows went. Business as usual in terms of government spending, and little to show for all the talk of drilling through bed-rock regulations and reforming.

There’s no other way to put it but another tax increase would be reckless.”

Better slash a commensurate amount of government spending instead then - where is the tabloid call for that?

Lastly, the equating consumption tax rate hikes with suicide rates is pathetic. But again, just a tabloid article.

-19 ( +2 / -21 )

I don't believe in the tabloids, however, this news is believable since it's just stating an obvious fact. In fact, I could even say almost all leaders of the countries in this world aren't in touch with their own people.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

What the article says about the income is 100% true. Basically, due to the tax ceiling, if husband/wife brings home 500,000 before taxes, the other partner can make about 80,000yen a month. This comes down to about 450,000yen after taxes and health care payments per household a month.

However, there are also other considerations for young families. With the above income, daycare would cost about 40,000-50,000 a month for an infant (government mandated cost). That means that the wife/husband working part time would be, in reality, bringing home only 30,000-40,000yen a month. This brings the total after tax income of the above family with ONE child close to 400,000yen a month. You could break down the cost of living here as well, but I would think most of you are well versed enough to do it yourself.

Now, what would be the situation for the family where the main bread winner would make a more realistic/common salary? Pretty f'ed up, I would say.

And yes, you can draw parallels from this to low birthrates and aging population if you wish to do so...

11 ( +12 / -1 )

"Abe oblivious..." Is good enough, and true.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I've been here a long time & I've never seen things this bad. Salaries going down, media lurching ever-further to the right, Japan increasingly distancing itself from the rest of the world (be it intentionally or unintentionally - haven't made my mind up on that one yet).

18 ( +19 / -1 )

"Finance Minister Taro Aso, an ardent supporter for increasing the tax, previously infuriated the public with his arrogant estimate that a humble cup of instant noodles might someday retail for 400 yen. If that does come to pass, Nikkan Gendai can think of no end more fitting for Abe and his cabinet than the same fate that befell Marie Antoinette."

I didn't write it! I just copied it! They're not my words! They are directly from the story! Please don't accuse me of being infammatory!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

There is a total disconnect between super-rich politicians and ordinary people. That is why they can say, Well, the consumption tax is only raised 3% to 8%, and 3% is nothing. It is NOT nothing if you can hardly cover your expences on a normal person's salary. And so they don't understand why Japanese no longer reproduce.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

I did not vote for him.

Raise taxes on luxury goods, tobacco and alcohol. Simple fix.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Sounds just like every other politician who ever lived.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

ABe oblivious.............is pretty much correct

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How about "Ablivious", a new word especially made especially for Abe.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

The only way to make 250,000 yen a month at a part-time job would be to ‘sell spring’ at a sex shop

I had never heard the idiom "haru wo uru" (春を売る) before, and it took me a while to make the connection between "sell spring" and "baishun" (売春), the Japanese word for prostitute.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Tabloids - not members of the Kisha Club, so they do not report the government's official propaganda. Between their pages, you will often find some real investigative journalism, much to the embarrassment of officials and corporations.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Raise taxes on luxury goods, tobacco and alcohol. Simple fix.

What exactly is a luxury good? Do chocolate biscuits count? And would it all produce a few trillion yen in extra revenues? Colour me skeptical.

Basically, due to the tax ceiling, if husband/wife brings home 500,000 before taxes, the other partner can make about 80,000yen a month.

That's if the household opts for the dependent spouse deduction, rather than earning a higher household income and paying more income tax.

With the above income, daycare would cost about 40,000-50,000 a month for an infant (government mandated cost).

As many people know, there is an income tax deduction for work commutation costs, which are accepted by the government as a necessary expense that people need to bear in order to get to work and earn their income.

For the same reason, I believe there should be a deduction for a household with two working parents who put their kid(s) in daycare. Especially those who can't get their kid(s) in the subsidized daycare options, despite paying tax like everyone else. Of course, Abe hasn't proposed such a deduction. The tabloid article should have criticized him for that.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Consumption tax???

Why can't the government live within its means?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

"The people" are thick and will still vote for Abe regardless. After all, he is the grandson of a previous prime minister, and that's all the reason that's needed for dopey Japanese to elect him.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

If Abe looks oblivious to the plight of Japanese citizens now, just wait...The fallout from current stock market "problems" in China, exacerbated by govt. incompetence, rampant corruption and political solutions to economic problems is going to jump the fence and set the world economy back on its heels this year. Engaged or disengaged, Abenomics or not, the PM`s going to be overwhelmed.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Abe and Japan are simply made for each other. The Japanese love to suffer quietly and with 'dignity' ... and he, and his neo-fascist ilk, are most definitely the right men and women to make that happen eternally.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

What if his "wife" is actually highly educated, skilled and in demand and worth that much in her part-time job?

Hate to tell you this, but any woman with that kind of earning power would not dream of marrying a man who only earned 500K a month, let alone having children with him. I certainly wouldn't.

That means that the wife/husband working part time would be, in reality, bringing home only 30,000-40,000yen a month. This brings the total after tax income of the above family with ONE child close to 400,000yen a month. You could break down the cost of living here as well, but I would think most of you are well versed enough to do it yourself.

I think that many Japanese women have already done the math, and worked out that they are better off staying single and (preferably) living at home with Mum and Dad.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Disgusting, yet people keep electing his party. A little more balance would be better...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Often the way for elites. How do you know how the average person lives if you've always lived a life of privilege?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Going part-time almost always involves a pay cut. So the question is whether it’s worth it, or whether there might be other ways to achieve the same goals without undermining your career or earning potential. Often, there are. These days, model work/life initiatives tend to talk about flexibility rather than hours. We say flexibility is not about working fewer hours. It’s about working differently. If you can make up hours at night after the kids go to bed, then you don’t need to choose a part-time schedule to pick them up at school. If you can work from home when you need to, then you can keep an eye on an aging parent while still being able to contribute. It just requires having a manager who’s more focused on results than seeing bodies in chairs.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What about the greedy farmers I just saw on TV throwing vegetables away or letting them rot rather than soliciting the working poor to come and pick fresh vegetables or give some of it to support the prison system to cut costs, instead the farmer waits for the Abe administration to give a huge pool of money to the JA group passed down to the greedy farmer

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What is the amount of Japan's debt compared to the finances of a household?.....All to jingles....

http://www.mof.go.jp/english/gallery/201409e.htm

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Any pm that can tax food at 8% should be facing a mass revolt!!!!!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Part time! 250,000 a month!?! I had a full time time job with a master's degree at one point bringing in 180,000 a month and that included a stipend for housing !!!! Yeah. This guy lives on the moon.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Dear Readers,

Does anyone know who is the biggest spender now in Japan? Shinzo Abe! Instead of talking on the phone with a lot of Ministers abroad, he keeps on flying into those countries, accompanied by his wife, on his private Jet along with a lot of followers! Figure it out here! You'll come out with a big "WOW!". Obama, Merkel or Putin, invites a lot on them into their own country and talk with them, and spend only little from peoples tax money!!!

yukichan

4 ( +4 / -0 )

These people have no clue, but its the same everywhere on this point.

I have often wondered how the average convenience store worker can possibly afford much more than the basics, and is probably dealing with long commutes or substandard accommodation.

NZ's current Prime minister for example grew up in a state house with parents getting welfare assistance, now he is actively trying shut all of these down.

Politicians don't really seem to be for the people in most part.. and the ones that are get called socialist and so on.. never mind its not possible for everyone to be rich.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We need to learn how to live with less... the necessary and meaningful in our lives...(I don´t know if it´s because deflation,but I feel that I can purchase more now with the yen,than with the same amount,many years back.)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Finance Minister Taro Aso, an ardent supporter for increasing the tax, previously infuriated the public with his arrogant >>estimate that a humble cup of instant noodles might someday retail for 400 yen.

Let's not forget Taro Aso said also "elderly should hurry up and die".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“The only way to make 250,000 yen a month at a part-time job would be to ‘sell spring’ at a sex shop,” a Nagatacho insider sneered

Clever, but not true. Part-time jobs in law, medicine, academia, IT, etc. can pay considerably more than 250,000 per month.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I don't blame Abe. Poor guy has no choice. There is absolutely no quick fix solution unless there is a drastic structural changes in the Japanese society. This has been explained in detail many years ago by experts worldwide.

Quantitative measures like Abenomics will always be a huge disaster.

Japan has very limited options, it has already run out of its time and it will only get worse as the years pass by.Closer ties with US is the only hope left now.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

We need to learn how to live with less...

If you think that, keep on voting LDP, because they're giving us plenty of practice.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

A consumption tax would not be a problem as long as people forced to work in the part time system ( and it is huge ) were earning a liveable minimum wage as other socially advanced countries do. Eg. NZ, Australia and others.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Abenomics is smoke and mirrors. Sadly, the meek Japanese public lap it up all the while lamenting "shoganai". Japan's decline will continue until hell freezes over.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What?! The average japanese salarymen takes home only $2500 a month? Something must be wrong here...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have a solution. Get rid of all the money that go to the American military bases, and provide that money to the poors in Japan. It is that simple.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Would be nice to have links the original Japanese articles.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What about the greedy farmers I just saw on TV throwing vegetables away or letting them rot rather than soliciting the working poor to come and pick fresh vegetables or give some of it to support the prison system to cut costs, instead the farmer waits for the Abe administration to give a huge pool of money to the JA group passed down to the greedy farmer...

I agree that this is terrible. With the high price of food many can barely afford fruits and vegetables in Japan (blemishes or not).

2 ( +3 / -1 )

To repeat, without pleasure, what I have written before, Abe lives in a bell jar. He has so his entire life. Guess where Abe did his undergraduate studies? Seikei University. Ever heard of it? It was set up by the Mitsubishi clan, later underwritten by the present Mitsubishi corporation, which still has precent there. It is a uniersity primarily reserved for the children of the rich. The point is this academically not great school no doubt shields it student from things their parents do not wish them to hear. a Marxist scholar would not be welcomed there.

Abe, like the French aristocracy before the revolution, was bred with the disconnect that this article lays bare. Raising the consumption tax at a time when real wages are frozen or falling is criminal. People will be pushed into poverty. There will be suicides. And people will consume less. Very likely the birthrate will go down.

None of this will bother Abe in his bell jar world.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No wonder things do not improve. When you eran 2 millions a month you can't even fancy the difficulties of normal people. It reminds me of the other caricature politician lover of Manga, who was convinced that cup-ramen cost was 700-1000 yen per unit...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

To think that politicians are not in touch with the people is obviously wrong. They were "in touch" enough to get elected. They just don't give a damn about suffering if it is not their own.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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