TOKYO, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday urged business leaders to raise wages by 3 percent in 2018 in an attempt to boost consumption.
"To create a virtuous cycle of the economy, I ask you to hike wages by 3 percent," Abe reportedly said in a speech at a New Year party co-organized by the Japan Business Federation, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Japan Association of Corporate Executives.
He also called upon entrepreneurs in Japan to increase investment to boost the economy.
Abe has made such requests on various occasions recently but it was the first time for him to directly ask the three business organizations, said local reports.
It was also rare for a Japanese prime minister to refer to a specific number for wage increase, they said.
Japan has been struggling with deflation and economists have pointed out wage increases will be crucial for people to increase consumption and for the Bank of Japan to achieve its elusive 2 percent inflation target. Many companies in Japan, however, prefer hoarding cash for the future.
The Japanese government hopes to push companies to raise wages by 3 percent in the annual springtime "shunto," or wage negotiations between management and labor unions, which is slated to start in February.