Canada Markets open in 2 hrs 27 mins

Japan PM asks business leaders for wage hikes in 2017

Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, attends a working lunch with Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, (not pictured), at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Tomohiro Ohsumi/Pool

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked business leaders on Thursday to support a sustainable economic recovery by raising employee wages in the new year, in keeping with their policy of the last few years.

"I thank you for the high-level wage increases over the past three years," Abe said in a speech at a New Year reception hosted by major business lobbies.

"I would like to ask you to raise wages again this year, a wage hike that would be at least as big as last year's. Only with wage increases that would not fall behind increases in prices, Japan can extricate itself from deflation and take the path for sustainable, strong economic growth."

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)