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The economy is in the doldrums and corporations cannot afford to grant wage increases, according to a report adopted Tuesday at an extraordinary general meeting of the Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations (Nikkeiren).Prior to this year’s spring labor offensive, known as “shunto,” the position report issued by Nikkeiren’s committee for the study of labor issues indicates a policy of no wage increases for 1998, which would make a sixth consecutive year without growth.The Nikkeiren report says that because of current economic conditions, companies should do their utmost to maintain current levels of employment even if this results in wage cuts. The report also urges companies to make rational decisions regarding personnel expenses and wages based on each company’s management conditions.Speaking at the meeting, Nikkeiren President Jiro Nemoto indicated that employment conditions may further deteriorate amid uncertainties in the financial sector. He also urged the government to swiftly implement measures to tackle the current crisis.”Problems with the financial system and sluggish economy, in addition to Asia’s economic confusion, must be solved as early as possible,” Nemoto said. “It is necessary for the government to make efforts to help the Nikkei stock average recover the 20,000 level and a yen rate of 110 to the dollar, which were the levels posted in the middle of last year.”

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