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G8 labor officials discuss helping “working poors”

High-level labor officials from the Group of Eight member states agreed Monday over the necessity to realize and tackle the issue of “working poors” in order to create balanced societies.

“Working poors” refer to people who have jobs but earn less than the ensured minimum living costs, a phenomenon regarded as a negative effect of the globalization. In his opening speech, Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe called on participants to make joint efforts to ensure the smooth and orderly operation of the global labor market systems, and take counter-measures to reduce the number of those who have no choice but to accept irregular jobs.

However, participants’ opinions differed over policies on how to deal with income polarization among the workforce as they had various definition of “working poors” and diversified comprehension on irregular employment, Japanese officials close with the meeting told reporters.

The labor officials from G8, which groups Italy, Japan, Russia, Canada, France, Germany, Britain, and the United States, were in Niigata city on their second day of the G8 labor affairs ministerial meeting, which is one of the ministerial meetings prior to the G8 summit slated for early July in northern Japan’s Hokkaido Prefecture. The officials also exchanged ideas on how to guarantee the private life under amounting work pressure and ways to strengthen lifelong learning systems as people in developed nations are enjoying longer life expectancies. Participants will talk on Tuesday, the last day of the meeting, about the relationship between labor and environment, as environmental protection issues including anti-global warming are expected to be priorities in the upcoming summit. (