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The Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), the nation’s most influential business lobby, plans to end its involvement in steering corporate donations and let businesses and groups make their own decisions on whom to support, sources said Thursday.

Nippon Keidanren attempts to influence the flow of political donations by publishing annual reports assessing political parties’ policies and achievements as a guideline for its members — Japan’s major businesses and industry groups.

It now wants to end the practice amid mounting public criticism over the shady world of money and politics, and the fact that the ruling party — the Democratic Party of Japan — has declared its intention to put an end to corporate donations, the sources said.

The federation will remain a provider of policy proposals to the government, but the decision, to be formalized March 8 at its executive meeting, will presumably obligate it to do so from a more politically neutral standpoint.

In 2004, Keidanren began issuing guidelines as a way to promote “voluntary” political donations from companies.

The DPJ, which came to power in a historic election victory last August, ending nearly five decades of rule by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, pledged to end political donations in its campaign platform.

Keidanren members’ donations in 2008 came to a paltry ¥100 million or so for the DPJ and ¥2.7 billion for the LDP.

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