Large firms kicked off their annual wage talks Wednesday, with labor unions demanding a pay-scale hike amid Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's repeated calls for an increase in salaries that would help boost consumption and shore up the economy.

Workers at major automakers including Toyota Motor Corp., which has posted record profits, submitted a formal request for a pay-scale rise of ¥6,000 per month.

The figure compares with last year's request of ¥4,000 for Toyota and ¥3,500 for Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co.