Japan annual wage talks set for tough going

Negotiations between business and labor over spring wage hikes are set for tough going in Japan as the coronavirus continues to devastate the economy.

Annual spring wage talks are scheduled to kick off later this month between the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo.

But the two sides are far apart on what the priority should be.

Rengo wants better treatment for so-called essential workers. It is aiming for a hike of about 2 percent in base pay.

Japanese Trade Union Confederation President Kozu Rikio said: "The economy has suffered a terrible blow. But it's still necessary to keep up the momentum for wage hikes to restart the economy. We should work both on maintaining jobs and raising pay at the same time."

But Keidanren is indicating caution toward raising wages across the board. It says that would be unrealistic, and the priority should be on keeping workers.