Seven business leaders, including Sony Corp. Chairman Nobuyuki Idei, 65, and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. President Norio Wada, 62, have been asked to become vice chairmen of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), sources at the group said Tuesday.

The remaining five are Shigemitsu Miki, 67, president of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi; Etsuhiko Shoyama, 66, president of Hitachi Ltd.; Kunio Takeda, 63, president of Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd.; Takashi Nishioka, 66, president of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.; and Kenji Miyahara, 67, chairman of Sumitomo Corp., the Nippon Keidanren sources said.

The influential business body is expected to nominate them as next vice chairmen following their acceptance, and will formalize the appointments at a general meeting in late May, they said.

Idei, who serves as chairman of the government’s Strategic Headquarters for the Promotion of an Advanced Information and Telecommunications Network Society, took the initiative in drawing up plans to broaden high-speed Internet use.

If the decision is formalized, Wada will be Nippon Keidanren’s first vice chairman from NTT, many of whose shares are owned by the government.

Nippon Keidanren has 13 vice chairmen at present. Its chairman is Hiroshi Okuda, who is also chairman of Toyota Motor Corp.

The expected changes will increase the number of vice chairmen to 15, as five incumbent vice chairmen are expected to retire while the seven assume the posts.

The five to step down include Satoru Kishi, 72, an adviser to Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi; Tetsuya Katada, 71, an adviser to Komatsu Ltd.; and Yoichi Morishita, 68, chairman of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.

Nippon Keidanren was established in May 2002 as a result of a merger of the Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) and the Japan Federation of Employers Associations (Nikkeiren).

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