Japan's executives paid less than Asian colleagues, study says

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TOKYO (Feb 9): Japanese executives receive lower pay than their counterparts in other parts of Asia, and those seeking to change jobs increasingly cite money as their main motivation, according to studies by a recruitment firm.

In the latest edition of its annual pay survey, Hays recruitment consultants found China, Hong Kong and Singapore offered better salaries for highly skilled professionals, while support staff such as receptionists and administrative assistants were better paid in Japan than elsewhere in the region.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s campaign to get employers to pay more has met with scant success, despite a deepening labor shortage caused by an aging population. Economists expect Japanese workers to see a 1% rise in their earnings this year, according to a survey carried out in December.

Almost two thirds of Japanese respondents to the Hays survey said they were dissatisfied with their salary, up from 53% last year. For the first time pay was the most common reason people gave for wanting to change jobs. The company surveyed about 3,500 people across China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Malaysia, while pay data was taken from more than 3,000 organizations.

"The workforce is becoming more and more global, so to attract and retain the best people, you need to be prepared to pay competitive salaries," said Marc Burrage, managing director of Hays Japan. Seniority-based pay systems are among the reasons for Japan’s low salaries, he said. "It’s a concerning situation and if it’s not addressed soon, it will start to bite in terms of productivity."