70% of party's individual donations made by power chiefs, highlighting cozy ties with politicians

Utility execs are major LDP donors

Kyodo

Current and former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. and eight other utilities accounted for more than 70 percent of donations made in 2009 by individuals to the Liberal Democratic Party’s political fund management body, according to data.

The power firm executives made no donations in 2009 to the Democratic Party of Japan. The data also show that such donations started as long ago as 1976.

The findings are expected to further stoke public anger over cozy ties between politicians and power companies amid the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The 2009 data were obtained from income and spending reports on political funds from 2007 to 2009 by the LDP’s fund management body, the People’s Political Association.

The association received ¥64.85 million in political donations from individuals in 2009, of which ¥47.02 million, or 72.5 percent, came from executives of the nine power companies.

Donations by power firm executives were mostly made in December, suggesting they were paid systematically. Tepco executives contributed a total of ¥14.27 million, or 30.3 percent of the total.

Chugoku Electric Power Co. executives donated ¥6.80 million. The figure was ¥6.15 million for Chubu Electric Power Co., ¥6.12 million for Shikoku Electric Power Co., ¥3.13 million for Hokuriku Electric Power Co., ¥3.04 million for Hokkaido Electric Power Co., ¥2.75 million for Kyushu Electric Power Co., ¥2.63 million for Tohoku Electric Power Co. and ¥1.86 million for Kansai Electric Power Co. Okinawa Electric Power Co. executives didn’t make any donations.

Among other findings, 141 of the 153 executives at the nine power companies made donations in 2009 to the LDP’s political fund management body.

Donations by power executives to the LDP’s association amounted to ¥56.69 million in 2007, or 63.5 percent of total contributions by individuals, and ¥58.66 million in 2008, accounting for 70.1 percent of the total.

In 1974, the electric power industry declared an end to corporate political donations amid strong criticism of the cozy relations between the utilities and politicians.

However, the donations appear to have begun in 1976, according to reports in past government gazettes and securities filings’

While the donations were made by individual executives in their own name, it is suspected that they in effect constituted corporate donations.

Executives of five utilities — Tepco, Chubu Electric, Kansai Electric, Shikoku Electric and Kyushu Electric — donated a combined ¥17.58 million to the LDP’s fund management body in 1976.

The amounts donated are strikingly similar among the five companies, with each president donating about ¥360,000 and each executive vice president around ¥240,000. Other executives donated roughly ¥100,000 each.

The combined amount of donations has increased on an annual basis, rising from ¥17.88 million in 1979 to ¥23.03 million in 1989 and ¥37.59 million in 1999.

In the early 1990s, executives from four other utilities — Chugoku Electric, Hokuriku Electric, Hokkaido Electric and Tohoku Electric — appear to have also started giving political donations to the LDP.