TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to urge the business sector to raise wages by about 3 per cent in next year’s annual wage negotiations with labour unions, Kyodo news agency reported on Friday (Nov 26).

The request will be part of Kishida’s initiative to distribute more wealth to households, and help ease the pain on consumers from rising oil and food costs.

The proposal, to be made at a government panel to be held later on Friday, will be the first time in four years for the government to set a numerical target for businesses on the level of wage hikes.

There is uncertainty, however, on whether companies will heed to Kishida’s request for voluntary wage hikes as many of them have kept wage growth low to protect jobs to weather the hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

Part of efforts to prop up a still-stagnant economy, Japan unveiled last week a record US$490 billion spending package, bucking a global trend towards withdrawing crisis-mode stimulus measures.

The package included funding to increase government-set wages for nurses and social care workers by 3 per cent.

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