Japan's Abe hopes wage increases will spread to medium-sized firms

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday he expects that moves to raise the wages of the country's workers will spread from large companies to medium-sized firms.

Increasing wages is important to Abe's efforts to have monetary stimulus and huge fiscal spending spur consumer spending and pull the country out of 15 years of deflation and uncertain growth.

This month, some of Japan's biggest companies - including Toyota Motor Corp. - decided to offer workers their biggest pay raises in years.

Some companies "are achieving their pay raise, which (Japan) has not seen in recent years," Abe said.

However, the vast majority of Japanese employees work for smaller companies, which have not benefited as much from Abe's economic policies.

A durable economic recovery for Japan needs a cycle of rising profits, wage and prices, economists say.