TOKYO - Japanese wage earners' total cash earnings rose in April for the first time in three months, but only slightly, in a sign Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's moves to reflate the economy have had limited impact on wages.
The year-on-year rise of 0.3 per cent in total cash earnings, which was attributed to a big gain in special payments including lump-sum payments and bonuses, followed a revised 0.9 per cent drop in March, data from the labour ministry showed.
Overtime pay, a barometer of strength in corporate activity, edged up 0.4 per cent in the year to April, marking the first annual increase in seven months.
"We see wages as staying flat largely and they show little sign of accelerating," said Manabu Watanabe, a labour ministry official in charge of compiling the data.
"You may count on an increase in summer bonuses, but regular pay won't rise much as companies remain wary about boosting wages."
Abe's aggressive fiscal and monetary expansionary policies, dubbed "Abenomics", have boosted share prices and weakened the yen, prompting consumers to spend more and helping big firms, especially exporters, increase earnings.
While a note of caution has crept in since Tokyo share prices began to slide on May 23, companies have been hesitant to boost business investment and substantially boost wages, casting some doubt about "Abenomics" leading to favourable economic cycles.
The labour ministry data also showed that special payments increased 9.7 per cent in April from a year earlier.
Both regular pay and monthly pay, which includes both regular and overtime pay, were unchanged in April from a year earlier.