Annual Wage Talks Begin in Japan amid Epidemic

Economy

Tokyo, Jan. 26 (Jiji Press)--This year's "shunto" labor-management negotiations in Japan effectively kicked off on Tuesday, with the two sides sparring over whether to raise wages or prioritize protecting employment amid the novel coronavirus epidemic.

A forum hosted by the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, was held the same day, the first since the coronavirus spread nationwide last year.

"Sincere discussions are needed to overcome the coronavirus crisis and raise competitiveness, with top priority given to the continuation of business operations and the protection of employment," Keidanren Director General Masakazu Kubota said at the forum on behalf of Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi, who is currently hospitalized.

Meanwhile, Rikio Kozu, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, said, "The biggest issue is how to maintain momentum for wage increases." Last year, large companies' wage growth topped 2 pct for the seventh consecutive year.

In his message, Nakanishi also expressed hopes of maintaining the momentum. But this year's shunto negotiations are likely to be tough, with the virus crisis putting pressure on many companies. If the pace of wage growth falls, consumption could decelerate, thereby affecting the overall economy.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press