Japan business lobby used cash to push nuclear plants

Both the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan, in response to the business community’s request, have promoted nuclear power generation in an attempt to receive more corporate donations.

The Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) between 2004 and 2009 issued a “report card” evaluating the policies of the two parties. Using its “policy priorities” as the criteria for rating parties on a scale of A to E, Keidanren annually made its evaluation on how much the two parties incorporated Keidanren’s priorities into their policies and on how hard they were working to realize them, and Keidanren encouraged its member corporations to use the “report card” as a reference for making political donations.

Keidanren always called for the promotion of nuclear power generation as one of the top ten “policy priorities.”

The LDP continuously received a rating of “A” because the party had 54 nuclear reactors constructed while in power.

In contrast, at the beginning of the “report card” system, Nippon Keidanren gave low evaluations on the DPJ’s energy policy. However, the DPJ gradually got better evaluations, because it began placing importance on the promotion of nuclear energy.

Aside from the “report card”, Keidanren gave an “oral test” to both parties. In the 2006 oral test to the DPJ, Keidanren vice-chair at the time Katsumata Tsunehisa said, “Utilization of nuclear power should be promoted as national policy.” DPJ Policy Research Committee deputy chair at the time Naoshima Masayuki replied, “Without making use of nuclear energy, it is difficult to ensure Japan’s energy supply.”

Katsumata used to be the vice president of Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (TEPCO) and is now the TEPCO chairman. Naoshima in 2009, as a member of the DPJ’s Hatoyama Cabinet, became the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry and took charge of nuclear power administration. In 2010, under Prime Minister Kan, he formulated the “Basic Energy Plan,” which calls for the construction of 14 more nuclear reactors by 2030.

DPJ member of the House of Councilors Fujiwara Masashi, who used to work at Kansai Electric Power Co., said that since 2007, the DPJ has regarded nuclear power generation as a “key to a stable energy supply” in an interview published in the organ paper of the Federation of Electric Power Related Industry Workers’ Unions of Japan (June 1, 2007).

Facing public criticism, Keidanren decided to stop issuing the “report card,” but the practice of corporate donations to favorable political parties still continues.

This article originally appeared in the Japan Press Service. Photo by Matthias Lambrecht // CC BY-NC 2.0


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