Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will return part of his salary, which would increase due to a law revision, the government said Thursday, amid a backlash from the public reeling from falling real wages.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno acknowledged that the government should not invite the "mistrust" of the people, although Kishida has no intention of taking advantage of the bill to amend the law on pay for public employees.
Matsuno, the top government spokesman, added the administration will seek the early passage of the bill targeting all national public servants in special positions, including Cabinet members, saying wage hikes have been carried out in some private companies.
The revision is designed to raise the annual salaries of the prime minister and Cabinet ministers by 460,000 yen ($3,046) and 320,000 yen, respectively.
If the revised law takes effect, the prime minister's annual salary is expected to be 40.61 million yen, and those of ministers likely to be 29.61 million yen, triggering criticism from voters, many of whom have suffered from cost-push inflation.
Kishida has pledged to implement a new economic stimulus package featuring an income tax cut of 40,000 yen per person and 70,000 yen in cash handouts to low-income households in an apparent bid to prop up the sluggish approval ratings for his Cabinet.
Opposition parties have swiftly pointed out that the envisioned salary hikes among the national servants are much higher than the tax reductions in the latest economic measures.