The heads of Japan's largest labor group and top business lobby met Monday to discuss the country's labor market as the annual union-management negotiations began, with both parties agreeing on the need for significant pay hikes to offset the impact of high inflation.

Tomoko Yoshino, the head of Rengo, or the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, called for pay hikes including base salary increases to ease the pain related to the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and recent rapid inflation. She said this year "should be a turning point to change our future" through sustained pay raises at companies of all sizes across the country.

Masakazu Tokura, the chairman of the Japan Business Federation, better known as Keidanren, agreed at the two organizations' meeting on the importance of pay increases to overcome economic challenges.