Business circles try to tide over difficulty through merger of their organizations

The Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) and the Japan Federation of Employers' Associations (Nikkeiren) merged on May 28 to create the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren). Okuda Hiroshi, Toyota Motor Corporation chair, was selected as the first chair of the new business organization.

Akahata's front page column "Current" on May 29 commented on the merger as follows:

Keidanren, which came into existence in 1946, has been called the "general headquarters of business circles." In 1955, it set up a system of collecting corporate funds to be donated to the conservative parties. Ostensibly to eliminate corruption, corporations unified their political donations which they had previously made separately.

But, it turned out to be a system for business circles to bribe the ruling party.

In 1956, the year after the conservative parties merged to establish the Liberal Democratic Party, Keidanren pushed the LDP government into preventing a pollution prevention bill from becoming a law. Later, Japan became a pollution-ridden archipelago.

Keidanren also played a major role in leading Japan to become a military power by putting forward a plan in 1951 to rearm Japan, although the government had not drafted any such plans.

Nikkeiren (founded in 1948) was often referred to as the "labor management policy division of business circles."

In dealing with the active trade union movement in the postwar days, Sakurada Takeshi as Nikkeiren chair incited employers against labor, saying, "We are threatened by fire in our backyard. The fire must be extinguished by employers' themselves. Our adversaries are planning a revolution."

While Keidanren used its money power to put politics under business circles' control, Nikkeiren suppressed objections in order to maintain its clout with the government. This is how plutocracy prevailed, and labor management policy under Nikkeiren's initiative has created a corporate society in which freedom in the workplace has been encroached upon and unpaid overtime work has become a common practice.

Nippon Keidanren has been established to make business circles more powerful. But the reality of a Japan in difficulties is a reflection of politics and society that has put too much emphasis on the benefit of business circles. (end)