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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 October 17 - 23  > Put an end to Keidanren’s ‘buyout of politics’ with use of policy evaluation tactic
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2018 October 17 - 23 [POLITICS]

Put an end to Keidanren’s ‘buyout of politics’ with use of policy evaluation tactic

October 17, 2018
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) has published this year’s evaluation of the ruling party’s policies. With the “report cards” of parties, Japan’s most influential business lobby is encouraging its member companies and relevant business organizations to make donations to the pro-corporate Liberal Democratic Party and its political fund management organization. Since Keidanren started evaluating the policies of the governing parties in 2014 when Toray Industries advisor Sakakibara Sadayuki served as the Keidanren chair, the amount of corporate donations to the LDP has continued to increase. This clearly shows that corporate money strongly supports the LDP’s business-oriented policies.

In the latest “report cards”, Keidanren graded the ruling LDP and its coalition partner Komei Party, stating that the ruling coalition achieved good results, such as the enactment of the “work-style reform” legislation. Keidanren also pointed out that the governing parties are going ahead with the consumption tax hike scheduled for fall of next year, and promotion of social security system reforms along with the reactivation of nuclear power plants. The business organization praised not only the ruling block’s economic policies but also their national security policies. Furthermore, it urged the ruling coalition to expand the use of the discretionary work system, curb the increase of government spending on social welfare, and lower corporate tax rates.

Keidanren used to give large corporations and industrial associations specific instructions on how much money each of them should donate, which was a major revenue source for the LDP. Facing fierce public criticism, Keidanren once stopped giving such instructions to its members. However, former Keidanren Chairman Sakakibara resumed the practice in the current style.

In the last several years, the LDP obtained more and more funds from the business world. When the LDP was out of power in 2011 and 2012, the amount of political donations to the LDP’s political fund management organization did not reach 1.4 billion yen. The LDP came back to power in December 2012 and Keidanren restarted issuing recommendations on corporate donations in 2014. As a result, the amount of financial support to the LDP jumped to more than 2.2 billion yen in 2014 and exceeded 2.3 billion yen in 2016. Major banks had refrained from making political donations for years since they accepted government bailouts in the late 1990s, but they started to make donations again in 2015. Among the donors, Keidanren member companies, especially those whose officials are Keidanren executives, have a stronger influence.

Given that sovereign power resides with the people and not with corporations, it is illogical to allow them to try to control politics with the use of money. If a company’s attempt to influence political parties succeeds, it amounts to buying party influence. If the attempt fails, the company’s executives will face the blame from shareholders. In the first place, if large corporations have a strong say in the political world, it will damage the general public status as a sovereign entity.

Not only a ban on Keidanren’s mediation of political donations but also a total ban on corporate and organizational political donations is required.

Past related articles:
> Major banks decide to resume donations to LDP after 18 years of restraint [December 18, 2015]
> Keidanren member corporations will resume political donations to LDP [August 28, 2014]
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