TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A two-day management-labor forum organized by the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, started in Tokyo on Monday, effectively marking the start of this year’s “shunto” annual spring pay talks.In an opening speech at the forum, Keidanren Chairman Sadayuki Sakakibara reiterated his organization’s call on member companies to raise employee pay.
Keidanren “is making a stronger appeal than before, while being aware of expectations from society for 3 percent pay hikes,” Sakakibara said.
The forum was also joined by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, the national umbrella organization of labor unions in Japan. Naoto Omi, general secretary of the group, known as Rengo, said in a separate seminar that the organization aims to ensure that employees at all businesses, including small and midsize firms, will benefit from pay hikes.
Full-fledged shunto talks will begin on Tuesday, when leaders of Keidanren and Rengo are scheduled to meet.
This marks the fifth year in a row in which the government asks employers to raise pay. For this year’s talks, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for increases of at least 3 percent.
In response, Keidanren last week called on member companies to consider 3 percent pay hikes positively through regular salary increases, pay scale hikes or other means.
Rengo has called for 4 percent pay hikes through regular salary increases and pay scale hikes combined.
Currently, Japan is thought to be in the second-longest spell of economic expansion since the end of World War II. Consumption, however, still lacks strength, reflecting the slow pace of pay growth.
The focal point of this year’s shunto will be how the management side responds to the pay hike demands to end the country’s deflation and create a virtuous economic cycle.