Sadayuki Sakakibara, the incoming chairman of Keidanren, says his priority in leading the nation's top business lobby is to help get Japan back on a growth track, but observers say he may also try to re-establish the organization's influence in politics.

In his first press conference on Jan. 27, the first since he was nominated, Sakakibara, also chairman of major textile and fiber maker Toray Industries Inc., said the immediate task in his new role is "achieving a virtuous cycle of the economy, leveraging that and making sure the economy gets out of deflation, and in turn getting Japan onto a firm recovery track."

Attending the same news conference, Hiromasa Yonekura, the current Keidanren chairman who handpicked Sakakibara, highlighted his successor's experience of bringing his company out of a slump by focusing on innovative products such as carbon fibers, and expressed high hopes for the "innovation-focused" leadership skills he will bring to his new position.