Finance Minister Taro Aso may have had a point when he denounced as “misers” those companies that pile up profits without reinvesting them or raising wages. The remark he made at a new year greeting with members of the life insurance business association referred to internal reserves that companies set aside from their earnings, which have accumulated to a combined ¥328 trillion across Japan Inc. Aso’s characteristically blunt words may reflect the Abe administration’s sensitivity toward criticism that the benefits of “Abenomics” have not gone much beyond big businesses and the wealthy, leaving smaller firms outside of large metropolitan areas, and consumers, largely excluded.

That remains the biggest challenge for the administration as its trademark economic policy enters its third year. While the nation’s global firms enjoy record profits, consumers have suffered a net decline in their income as prices have risen faster than wages.

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