Japan's wage talks start amid soaring inflation

Annual wage negotiations have kicked off in Japan amid a backdrop of soaring inflation. The focus is on how much businesses are willing to increase pay and whether smaller companies can keep pace.

Leaders of Japan's largest business lobby, Keidanren, and its biggest labor organization, Rengo, met in Tokyo on Monday.

Keidanren chairman Tokura Masakazu said, "We're calling on businesses to proactively maintain and strengthen the wage-hike momentum we are seeing as their social responsibility. We expect them to pay special attention to price trends."

Yoshino Tomoko, president of Rengo, said, "Many people are struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic and soaring prices. Labor and management should work together to make this a turning point for the future of Japan."

The two sides agreed on the need for higher pay as prices rise at the fastest pace in four decades. But differences remain on how much wages should go up.

The labor side is asking for about 5 percent, including a base-pay hike and a regular raise according to seniority.

Keidanren has expressed understanding of that position but also calls for careful consideration.