• Economy

Japan 2024 “Shunto” Wage Talks Begin Effectively

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Keidanren Chairman Masakazu Tokura speaks in a video message at a labor-management forum meeting of the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Wednesday.

TOKYO, Jan. 24 (Jiji Press) — Japan’s 2024 “shunto” wage negotiations started effectively Wednesday with a labor-management forum meeting of the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren.

“It’s a duty for companies to aim for wage hikes that beat price increases,” Keidanren Chairman Masakazu Tokura said in a video message to the meeting in Tokyo.

The focus of this year’s shunto talks is whether companies will realize larger pay increases than 2023 amid persisting inflation, as sought by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Attention is also paid to whether the envisaged pay increases will lead to a turnaround of inflation-adjusted real wages, closely related to personal consumption, that have kept falling.

Tokura said that the 2023 shunto led to the “highest level of wage increases in recent years.”

Now is the “golden opportunity” to fully overcome deflation, he also said. “It’s essential to extend (wage) increases to small and midsize companies this year.”

Later on the day, a senior Keidanren official will explain 2024 shunto guidelines for the management side, while Tomoko Yoshino, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, the umbrella body of labor unions nationwide, will give a lecture.

The labor and management sides share a view on the importance of structural wage growth, achieved if excellent human resources move to high-paying companies, improving their productivity and profits as a result.

However, there is a gap between the two sides over the ways to increase wages and pay hike rates at smaller companies.

“We hope for maximum possible pay hikes,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told a press conference Wednesday. “The government will make full efforts to realize sustainable and structural wage increases nationwide, including at smaller companies and small-scale businesses.”