This year's shunto spring wage talks should focus on raising monthly pay rather than annual pay, Rikio Kozu, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), said in an interview Thursday.

Keidanren called on member companies to raise annual pay, including bonuses and allowances.

Kozu said higher monthly pay will encourage consumers to spend more than higher bonuses do, calling on employers to raise monthly pay scales.

The last two years of shunto talks "reaped certain results," said Kozu, head of the largest labor union group in Japan, citing high levels of pay scale increase.

A pay scale increase should continue for more years to come so that consumers will think wages will continue to rise, he said.

Kozu also sought to narrow wage gaps between large and smaller companies.

Rengo hosted meetings in some regions last year that brought together employers and municipal officials to discuss labor conditions at small and midsize companies.

The meetings were based on the belief that improving labor conditions at small and midsize companies is essential for regional revitalization, Kozu said.

This year, Rengo plans to hold such meetings in all 47 prefectures. "We will remain active in exchanging opinions with small companies," Kozu said.