Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked business leaders Tuesday to raise wages in a rare move reflecting the administration's resolve to accelerate the battle against chronic deflation.

The request was made during talks between the new prime minister and executives of powerful business lobbies, including Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of Keidanren, which recently suggested at the start of the annual negotiations with labor unions that its member companies will freeze or delay regular wage hikes.

"I hope that companies with improved performances will make efforts to raise the pay" of their employees, Abe told the meeting, which included representatives from the Japan Association of Corporate Executives and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.