• Kyodo

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The nation’s biggest business lobby is set to resume recommending for the first time in five years that its member companies make political donations, in an effort to strengthen ties with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to gain a bigger say in policy.

Keidanren will urge its around 1,300 corporate members to make political contributions, Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of the lobby group, said Monday at a news conference.

The group will make an official decision on the matter Thursday.

Keidanren will not recommend specific amounts to be donated by particular sectors, Sakakibara said, adding the donations will be made as “social contributions,” as described in the group’s previous guidelines.

The lobby also won’t say which parties should receive funds, but in reality the LDP will be the primary recipient.

Sakakibara, also chairman Toray Industries Inc., said it is important for the government and business community to work together to restore the economy after a slump that has lasted decades.

The move could trigger criticism from the public that the business group is buying favor for large companies.

Some major economic measures outlined by the Abe administration are more beneficial for larger companies, such as lowering corporate taxes and easing working-hour regulations for some types of employees to cut overtime pay.

Political donations by companies to the Liberal Democratic Party fell to around ¥1.4 billion in 2012, from nearly ¥10 billion in the early 1990s.

Abe’s LDP returned to power after defeating the Democratic Party of Japan in December 2012.

While the ruling party welcomed the resumption, opposition parties were quick to criticize the move.

“The money for donations should be used to raise wages,” DPJ leader Banri Kaieda said.

Japanese Communist Party secretariat chief Yoshiki Yamashita said such donations are “a buyout of politics” and will lead the government to prioritize policies for big companies.

A senior LDP member said the public would walk away from the party if it institutes policies in favor of Keidanren’s members.

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