TOKYO, June 1 (UPI) -- A strike at four Honda factories in China is a sign that a shift in production costs is near, a specialist in the Chinese economy said.
"Japan is starting to realize that the age of cheap wages in China is coming to and end," said Tomoo Marukawa at Tokyo University, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The strike that began at a Honda transmission plant in Foshan, China, in mid-May spread to three other Honda plants. Combined, the factories turned out 58,814 vehicles in April, the newspaper said.
Honda recently announced it would increase production in China by 30 percent to make 830,000 cars and minivans a year. Temporarily, production has come to a standstill with 1,900 workers on strike to protest low wages and poor working conditions.
Honda's Japanese workers earn about 50 times what a Honda worker in China earns, but the tide may turn soon.
Chinese workers not only expect higher wages, but "Japanese manufacturers need to raise morale by making sure that local staff can also climb within the company," said Tatsuo Matsumoto, a researcher at the Japan Center for International Finance.