Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), thinks he has a cure for the sick economy, but consumers aren't likely to enjoy his bitter medicine.

Okuda's remedy: Substantially raise the consumption tax and use the revenues to sustain the social security system.

"One reason why Japan's economy has fallen (for over a decade) is that we haven't built a (sustainable) social security system (to cope with a rapidly aging society)," Okuda said in a yearend interview with reporters. "A proper system could erase public concerns over the future and consequently stimulate consumer spending."