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Growth talks next target: pay

Kyodo

The Abe administration will hold discussions with business and labor union leaders from mid-September to late in the year in hopes of raising wages and creating better working conditions for women, the pillars of a second version of its economic growth strategy, sources said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s team will also map out an interim report by the end of December on how to promote structural reform in the tightly regulated areas of agriculture, employment and health care, they said.

To conduct intensive debate on regulatory issues, the government plans to set up sectional committees under the industrial competitiveness council, which has been discussing the growth strategy, one of the key planks of the prime minister’s economic policies dubbed “Abenomics,” along with drastic monetary easing and massive fiscal spending.

Before making a final decision on whether to carry out the consumption tax hike in April as scheduled, Abe is apparently aiming to demonstrate his intention to make efforts not only to restore the country’s fiscal health, the worst among developed nations, but to shore up the economic recovery.

However, it is uncertain whether companies will comply with a demand for higher wages or whether Abe will be able to push through regulatory reforms amid strong opposition from business groups that have an interest in the protected fields of agriculture and health care.

The government is expected to hold discussions with economic organizations, including Keidanren, the country’s biggest business lobby, and the Japan Association of Corporative Executives, as well as labor unions such as the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo).

Economic and fiscal policy minister Akira Amari and other ministers are likely to participate for the administration.

The Cabinet endorsed a growth strategy in June aimed at beating nearly two decades of deflation by beefing up private-sector investment and rebuilding businesses.

But most of the policy proposals in the strategy did not break new ground and triggered disappointment, forcing Abe to draft a second version.

The government plans to finalize a wholly revised version of the growth strategy by next June, the sources said.