• Kyodo

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In a move to accelerate efforts to beat chronic deflation, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to directly ask Japan’s business leaders to raise wages for employees at a meeting of a government panel ahead of next year’s shunto spring wage negotiations, sources close to him said Friday.

Abe has called on the corporate sector to increase wages for workers for the third straight year since he took office in December 2012, emphasizing that wage growth will stimulate domestic demand and help push up consumer prices.

Representatives from business circles, such as Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation, are slated to participate in the meeting to be held at the prime minister’s office.

Many large-scale companies have responded to Abe’s past requests and raised wages for their full-time employees so far. Wage hike moves have not quite spread to smaller firms or benefited part-time workers.

The government has pledged to expand Japan’s gross domestic product to ¥600 trillion, while agreeing with the Bank of Japan to work together to realize 2 percent inflation.

Private-sector representatives, such as academics, of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, the government’s key economic panel, have argued that wage growth is essential to achieve the 2 percent inflation goal.

Among other issues to be discussed at the planned meeting focused on labor market reforms is how to promote workforce mobility to ensure growing sectors will have enough human resources.

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