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Japan real wages post biggest gain since 2010 in March: Government

Japanese business men walk along the street in Tokyo, Japan.
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Japanese business men walk along the street in Tokyo, Japan.

Japanese price-adjusted real wages in March rose the most in 5-1/2 years due to stalling inflation and rising nominal wages, government data showed on Monday, providing welcome news for policymakers counting on pay rises to spur private consumption.

Wage growth holds the key to the success of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Abenomics reflationary policy aimed at pulling the world's third-largest economy out of two decades of deflation and stagnation by generating private sector-led growth.

Real wages, adjusted for inflation, rose 1.4 percent in March from a year earlier, the biggest gain since September 2010, data by the labor ministry showed.

It was the second straight month of annual gains, which should ease policymakers' concerns about tepid wages that lag behind price increases eroding consumers' purchasing power.

Wage earners' nominal cash earnings also rose 1.4 percent in March, to 278,501 yen ($2,604.52), up two months in a row and posting the biggest gain since July 2014, the data showed.

"Wages are increasing gradually as a trend, and they grew more than expected in March due to bonus payments and steady increase in regular pay," a ministry official said.

Regular pay, which determines base salaries, rose an annual 0.4 percent, while overtime pay - a barometer of strength in corporate activity - fell 0.2 percent in March, the data showed.

Special payments grew 19.8 percent as more firms pay bonuses in March. Because special payments are generally small, even a slight change in the amount can cause big percentage changes, the official said.

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