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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 April 18 - 24  > DPJ’s cozy ties with N-related companies and unions affect resumption of NPP
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2012 April 18 - 24 TOP3 [NUCLEAR CRISIS]

DPJ’s cozy ties with N-related companies and unions affect resumption of NPP

April 22, 2012
The Noda Cabinet under the Democratic Party of Japan-led government has recently made the decision to give the green light to the restart of offline nuclear reactors at the Kansai Electric Power Company’s Oi nuclear power plant in defiance of public opposition and concerns about safety.

In the background, cozy relationships exist between the DPJ and pro-nuclear power generation businesses and their labor unions.

The DPJ receives donations from member companies of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum Inc. (JAIF), the umbrella organization of the “nuclear community of interest” benefitting from nuclear power generation.

The total amount of political donations from nuclear-related corporations to the DPJ in 2009 was 23.5 million yen, including 5 million yen from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., a nuclear reactor manufacturer, and 2 million yen from Sumitomo Corporation, an atomic fuel import company.

Electric companies ostensibly restrain themselves from making donations to political parties or individual politicians. They, however, purchase fund-raising party tickets from many DPJ Dietmembers. The cost of tickets purchased per party by each utility is less than 200,000 yen because under the Political Funds Control Act, politicians can exclude from their political fund reports the names of those who purchased a party ticket of 200,000 yen or less. Media reports revealed that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) frequently bought party tickets from Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Edano Yukio.

Donations to the DPJ and its lawmakers come not only from nuclear-related corporations but also from pro-business labor unions.

The pro-business Japan Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) affiliated-Federation of Electric Power Related Industry Workers’ Unions of Japan (Denryoku Soren) and its member unions give donations to the DPJ. Denryoku Soren is also a member of the JAIF.

Between 2007 and 2009, Denryoku Soren and its affiliates donated a total of 110 million yen to 33 DPJ parliamentarians, including Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko, Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura Osamu, and former Industry Minister Ohata Akihiro.

Furthermore, these unions in elections cooperate with the DPJ and work for DPJ candidates who used to be union members. They have provided assistance to DPJ candidates, especially to those who belong to a group to discuss future energy and environment matters, which was established by Denryoku Soren in order to increase its political influence. 26 DPJ candidates in the group won seats in the 2009 House of Representatives general election and obtained positions of vice minister and parliamentary secretary in the DPJ-led administration. The current Noda Cabinet includes two group members, Nuclear Policy Minister Hosono Goshi and National Policy Minister Furukawa Motohisa.

DPJ lawmakers from labor unions at nuclear-related corporations are pushing their party to decide to reactivate idled nuclear reactors in Japan and support nuclear power plant operators in the Diet.
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