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OYAMA, Shizuoka Pref. — Business leaders should take the initiative in pushing structural reforms aimed at reinvigorating the stagnant economy, Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), said Thursday.

Speaking at an annual summer seminar, Okuda said business, political and bureaucratic leaders are responsible for motivating people to tackle the various problems facing the nation.

“In the past 20 years, Japanese people have avoided changing (social and economic systems) while the world is changing drastically,” said Okuda, who is also chairman of Toyota Motor Corp. “We should not take a protracted approach to our problems any more.”

Top officials at Nippon Keidanren, including Minoru Makihara, chairman of trading house Mitsubishi Corp., and Sony Corp. Chairman Nobuyuki Idei, are taking part in the two-day forum, in which executives at major corporations discuss various themes in an informal manner.

The issues set to be discussed at this year’s seminar include the international political and economic strategies of Japan and the United States, Japan’s structural reforms and the manner in which Nippon Keidanren organizes political donations among its member firms.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is expected to attend a reception on the second day of the forum, where he will exchange views on the economy with the business leaders.

Nippon Keidanren is the most powerful business lobby in Japan, boasting some 1,600 companies and industry associations as members.