New rules on holding companies delayed

Due to continuing disputes over the handling of labor-management relations, the ruling coalition on Feb. 19 decided to allow one extra day for discussions before finalizing new guidelines for holding companies under a revised Antimonopoly Law.

The Liberal Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake had earlier planned to finalize the guidelines Feb. 20, but the deadline is now set for Feb. 21. The three parties remained apart over some core issues, including the handling of labor-management issues and the definition of “excessive concentration” of power, coalition officials said.

The LDP called for a further easing of restrictions to allow greater freedom for corporate activities, while the SDP and Sakigake insisted on a more cautious approach, according the officials. During the meeting Feb. 19, the SDP, which has strong support among labor unions, called for a new system to settle labor-management disputes under a newly introduced holding company system.

The Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations (Nikkeiren) and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) have been at odds over the issue, and the ruling coalition had earlier asked them to reach a final agreement by Feb. 20. Rengo is calling for a revision to labor laws to give labor unions the right to negotiate directly with the management of holding companies.