Inn operator says wage hikes will have to wait

Annual wage negotiations kicked off in Japan on Monday amid a backdrop of soaring inflation. But many medium and small firms can't afford to raise wages. An inn operator in the northern prefecture of Aomori is among them.

Kazennosyo has been in business for about 30 years and employs 7 people. The number of guests has dropped by about half due to the pandemic.

Bookings are starting to recover. But the operator still expects revenue this fiscal year will be down roughly 30 percent from before.

Soaring electricity charges are adding to its woes. The bill for December more than doubled from a year earlier. The cost to import ingredients for meals has also doubled from pre-pandemic levels.
Raising the rate for an overnight stay by about 8 dollars per person for the winter season has helped. But the manager says it's still not enough.

Kazennosyo manager Ishizawa Ryota said that his top priority is to keep the inn afloat to ensure employees will continue to have jobs. He says sales will need to recover more before he can consider raising wages.