August 27, 2014 3:00 pm JST

Abe has Japan's big business lobby ready to revive political donations

TOKYO -- Japan's most powerful business lobby is ready to start urging its member companies to make political donations again, sources told The Nikkei on Wednesday. The Japan Business Federation, commonly known as Keidanren, had given up on political donations in October 2009.

     Keidanren will announce the about-face as soon as in September, the sources said.

     Keidanren Chairman Sadayuki Sakakibara has been pressing for a stronger relationship with government since he assumed the post in June. As such, he has been rushing to repair frayed ties with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his administration.

     By reviving corporate political donations, he aims to bolster relationships between political parties and businesses.

     The business lobby in 1993 scrapped its political donation system, under which it would allocate donation amounts to its member companies. It did so after the Liberal Democratic Party briefly lost power to a coalition under then Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa. In 2004, the organization revived political donations, deciding on amounts after rating the business-friendliness of each party's policies on a scale of 1 to 5. It again ceased its political donation practice in October 2009, after the LDP again fell from power.

     Now with the LDP back on top, Keidanren wants to add its 2 cents. However, it will not bring back the allocation system. Instead it will reaffirm its notion that corporate political donations are an important type of social contributions and merely urge its members to give. The organization will leave it up to each company whether to actually make donations.