Whether you have suffered financially during the pandemic or not, everyone will be feeling the latest price increases in Japan.
What is going up?
Seven out of 10 of Japan’s major electricity suppliers have raised their household rates, citing soaring prices for liquified natural gas and coal. The standard rate will rise as much as 283 yen in Tokyo. The Russia-Ukraine crisis is likely to have a further impact upon electricity and gas rates, so we can look forward to more increases in the future. However, Tokyo Gas Co. will be raising its rates for the eighth month in a row, indicating consumers are bearing the brunt of soaring costs industry wide.
You may have noticed a hike in your grocery bill despite buying all the same things as usual. This is because grocery costs have gone up Japan-wide due to various reasons such as materials and logistics costs. Tinned fish is selling for a 15% higher cost, as are frozen foods. Oil costs have gone up by 40 yen per kilo and condiments such as mayonnaise are up about 6%, while soy sauce will rise by 10%. Pasta and pasta sauces have risen by 2 to 9.5% due to higher import costs for wheat, while potato chip costs have risen 6%.
A highly desired item during the early days of the pandemic, toilet paper and tissues will go up by 15%.
Even clothing is not safe from price increases. UNIQLO CEO Takeshi Okazaki stated that the weak Japanese yen means that importing raw material is comparatively more expensive than before and that they have no choice but to raise the costs of all UNIQLO products.
Who will it affect?
It is said that these price hikes will have the largest affect on low-income families, amounting to the equivalent of a 2% sales tax rise, while for households earning over 10 million yen annually it is a much lower 0.5%. While some people will receive an increase in salary from April to compensate for inflation, those who do not will struggle.
Anecdotal: What have you noticed has risen in your area?
In our area of Central Tokyo, we have noticed that onions which used to cost 15 yen each, are now 70 yen per piece. Strawberries have gone from 350 yen to 500 yen before tax, and fish has become quite expensive. What is worse is that unlike in Western countries where supermarkets will regularly have 50% off promotions on non-perishables, discounts in Japan are more likely to be a coupon for “5 yen off” or something similar, making it very hard to save money on sales.
How to save money
- You can shop late at night to get 50% discounts on fruits, vegetables and pre-made bentos.
- You can shop at import shops like Gyomu Supa and Hanamasa as the imported goods are cheaper than domestic goods.
- Always use point cards, they add up eventually. Our supermarket randomly doubled our point total last year which was nice.
- Look for your local fruit and vegetable shop, it will have a cheaper and wider selection than the supermarket and after about 5pm they often discount prices.
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