JAPAN | Power industry unions donate over 100 mil. yen to DPJ

Posted on August 1, 2011

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JAPAN | MAINICHI | 1 August 2011

Tokyo Electric Power Co. headquarters in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The ruling Democratic Party of Japan received over 100 million yen in donations in the three years through 2009 from political groups formed by workers’ unions of electric power companies, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday.

With power company executives already known to have provided large contributions to the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, the union funding shows that both the labor and management sides of the industry have sought to maintain their clout with the country’s two top political parties.

The power industry’s labor groups provided at least 111 million yen to the DPJ headquarters as well as 33 parliamentarians including Katsuya Okada, former party president and current secretary general, and former science minister Tatsuo Kawabata between 2007 and 2009, according to publicly available political fund reports.

Current and retired executives of electric power companies were already found to have provided 162 million yen in political donations during the same three-year period to the LDP, which lost power in 2009.

The labor unions mobilized their funds to support the DPJ while the management backed the LDP to achieve the common goal of securing political endorsement for nuclear power as an important energy source.

The 220,000-strong Federation of Electric Power Related Industry Worker’s Unions of Japan, known as Denryoku Soren, has deepened ties with the DPJ since before the party wrested power from the LDP in 2009.

One source in the federation said the labor group provided the funds to politicians who supported nuclear power as an energy source to ensure stable electricity supplies.

The headquarters of Chubu Electric Power Co. in Nagoya on May 7. (Mainichi)

The headquarters of Chubu Electric Power Co. in Nagoya on May 7. (Mainichi)

Denryoku Soren is formed by workers’ unions at 10 regional electric power companies, two power wholesalers — Japan Atomic Power Co. and Electric Power Development Co. — and electric power-related firms.

A DPJ panel on energy in 2006 put forth a new energy policy proposal stating that nuclear power is an indispensable energy source, marking a turnaround from the party’s previously cautious stance on nuclear energy.

DPJ upper house member Masashi Fujiwara, who once belonged to the federation said in the union’s newsletter in 2007 that the labor group’s approach to the party played a key role in encouraging the policy shift.

The DPJ’s pro-nuclear stance was later reflected in its campaign promises for the 2009 election.

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