Thu, Mar 14, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Japan carmakers to boost bonuses

AFP, TOKYO

Japan’s top automakers are set to give tens of thousands of employees an annual bonus bump as a weaker yen helped their bottom line, while Tokyo presses firms to hike salaries to lift the economy.

Toyota, Japan’s biggest carmaker, yesterday said it would accept union demands for a richer bonus, with the Camry-maker agreeing to raise the annual payment by about 10 percent to an average of ¥2.05 million (US$21,000).

The bonus will be given to both factory employees and white-collar staff, said Toyota, the world’s largest vehicle producer.

It would reportedly be Toyota’s biggest bonus in five years.

Japan’s No. 2 automaker Nissan will bump its bonus by about 2.3 percent to ¥2.04 million, reports said, while No. 3 producer Honda also said it would offer a bonus boost, without disclosing details.

In January, the country’s top three automakers posted record sales for last year as the trio put Japan’s damaging quake-tsunami disaster in their rear view mirror, while a weakening yen helped their bottom line.

The unit, which hit a record high around ¥75 on the US dollar in late 2011, hurt Japan’s auto industry by making their vehicles less competitive overseas and shrinking foreign-earned income converted back to yen.

The unit’s decline in recent months — it traded above ¥95 on the US dollar yesterday — has come on the back of a new government in Japan vowing to fix the world’s third-largest economy with a mix of big spending and aggressive monetary easing.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also asked Japanese firms to lift their employee pay as a way to boost disposable income and reverse years of deflation, which has crimped private spending and business investment.

Other major firms, including Hitachi and Fuji Heavy Industries, have decided to offer employees a pay rise, Japanese media reported.

Seven & i Holdings, which operates 7-Eleven convenience stores across Japan, has said it would hike salaries for some 53,000 employees, while rival operators Lawson and FamilyMart announced bonus increases for staff.

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