Japan’s two major business organizations — the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) and the Japan Federation of Employers Associations (Nikkeiren) — will merge by May 2002, Nikkeiren Chairman Hiroshi Okuda said Wednesday.

Keidanren will formalize its decision at its executive board meeting on Sept. 19, while Nikkeiren will endorse the move at a policy board meeting on Sept. 20, Okuda told a press conference.

The two will set up project groups to map out a timetable by the end of this year on what to do ahead of the merger and consider a form of organization to be established after they unite, Okuda said.

The groups have increasingly been observing overlaps in their activities and areas of interest.

Keidanren represents the interests of more than 1,000 major companies in Japan, while Nikkeiren is a group of more than 100 employers associations primarily handling labor and management issues.

They wield considerable influence in Japanese industry and business circles by making policy recommendations and proposals to the government.

When talks of a possible merger first surfaced this spring, Keidanren and Nikkeiren officials said a merger would most likely take place in May 2002, when the term of office for the current Keidanren chairman, Takashi Imai, expires.

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