The Japan Federation of Employers’ Association (Nikkeiren) on Tuesday publicized its annual labor report, which for the first time recommended reducing overall personnel costs through the “shunto” annual spring wage bargaining round this year.

Nikkeiren argued that given the current severe economic situation, job security should be given priority this year, rather than wages or other labor conditions.

The employer association also recommended that firms adopt a variety of worker systems, such as work-sharing and part-time employment, to hire more people for less wages each. “As strengthening of competitiveness and reduction of management costs are becoming pressing management issues, it is difficult to raise personnel costs, which are already high compared with other countries,” the report says.

On Monday, Hiroshi Okuda, Toyota Motor Corp. president and chairman-elect of Nikkeiren, called for maintaining the group’s spirit of “attaching great importance to personnel.” Nikkeiren decided Friday to appoint Okuda as chairman in May when Nemoto’s term expires.

Okuda also brushed aside speculation that he would push to unify the nation’s major business organizations, including Nikkeiren and the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren.) “I don’t think of such a thing (as being the last Nikkeiren chairman),” he said.

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