Keidanren set to lose representation in Diet

Kyodo News

The Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), the nation’s largest business lobby, has decided not to field probusiness candidates in the House of Councilors election next summer, sources said Saturday.

The group apparently decided to adopt a neutral stance in light of the change in government from the long-governing, business-friendly Liberal Democratic Party to the Democratic Party of Japan.

The organization is currently championed by LDP Upper House member Tokio Kano, 74, who was a vice president at Tokyo Electric Power Co. Kano entered the Upper House in 1998 as the first politician fielded by the group. But Kano, who is in his second six-year term, does not plan to run in next summer’s election.

In 2001, Takeshi Kondo was elected to the Upper House as a candidate backed by Nippon Keidanren and three other business lobbies. He resigned in 2003 to head the then Japan Highway Public Corp.

Since the lobby didn’t field anyone in the previous Upper House election in 2007, Nippon Keidanren, which once had two LDP lawmakers representing its interests, will not have any presence in the Diet after the next poll.

The lobby’s predecessor, the Federation of Economic Organizations, decided in 1993 to end the practice of coordinating member companies’ donations to help the LDP and other political organizations.

The decision was made because a non-LDP government was being launched that year under Morihiro Hosokawa, and because criticism was being focused on the cozy ties between business and politics.

But the group later altered its stance and started fielding probusiness candidates.