Japan calls for clear labor policies in Chinese factories

BEIJING — Japan called for "transparent policies" governing workers in China on Saturday, saying labor disputes that halted operations at dozens of factories this year were troubling to Japanese companies.
Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada brought up the issue at a high-level economic meeting between China and Japan — the world's second and third largest economies — held in Beijing to discuss ways to recover from the economic crisis and foster regional cooperation. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met with the Japanese delegation on Sunday.
"At the request of Japanese enterprises in China, we discussed ensuring transparent policies" during talks on how to improve the business environment in China, Okada said Saturday. "As to the recent frequent labor dispute issue, the Japanese side expressed willingness to further strengthen discussion."
The widespread strikes were rare for China but the government permitted them, apparently trying to put more money in workers' pockets as part of efforts to boost consumer spending.
The Chinese delegation at the meeting said the strikes were to be expected because wages had been frozen for two years to help companies ride out the economic crisis, Japan Foreign Ministry spokesman Satoru Sato told reporters at a briefing late Saturday.
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