The Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) plans to keep tabs on the pledges made by major political parties and hold them accountable to the promises they make, according to its president, Hiroshi Okuda.
Okuda told Kyodo News in a recent interview that Nippon Keidanren plans to conduct a review every six or 12 months of the policy pledges made by both the ruling and opposition camps.
“If by, say, next June we find that the policies pursued by the governing party are different from the pledges they made, we will change our stand accordingly,” Okuda said.
Okuda, who also serves as chairman of Toyota Motor Corp., spoke in his capacity as head of Keidanren, the nation’s largest business lobby.
Both the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan have issued platforms, terming them manifestos, ahead of the Nov. 9 general election for the House of Representatives.
Reflecting its growing political clout, Keidanren plans to resume making political donations — so far mostly to the LDP — beginning next year after stopping the practice some 10 years ago amid widespread corruption scandals.
Coupled with its power of the purse string, Keidanren’s plan to hold political parties to their policy pledges appears to reflect the business lobby’s determination to strengthen its say in the nation’s political process.
Keidanren, whose membership list is a virtual who’s who in the business establishment, routinely issues “visions” on a wide range of policies.
In calling for a reform of the cash-strapped national pension system, Keidanren has proposed raising the consumption tax, which is currently 5 percent, by 1 percentage point every year to pay for future pensions.
In a policy vision announced in January, Okuda proposed raising the tax incrementally to 16 percent by fiscal 2014.
In the interview, Okuda said that an incremental raise in the consumption tax would have less of an impact on consumer buying habits.
“The tax should be raised by 1 percentage point each year — to somewhere between 10 percent and 20 percent,” he said.
Commenting on the upcoming election, Okuda said Keidanren has no plans to lift its political donation moratorium early.
“We haven’t heard any request for money from the various political parties,” Okuda said, adding that there have been no requests for advance donations to make up for next year’s contribution pledges.
As for future political donations, Okuda said he wants to see a new system in which individuals can contribute money to specific politicians and receive tax credits.
On Japan’s contribution to the reconstruction of Iraq, Okuda said Japan should send troops under the framework of the United Nations, not under the aegis of the United States.
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