DP and Hakuhodo step up fight against Dentsu

Updated : 17.02.2017 / Category Capsule

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The main opposition Democratic Party is pressing ahead with a relentless assault on major advertising agency Dentsu Inc., which has come under intense scrutiny following the 2015 suicide of an employee who had worked excessively long hours. DP leader Renho "is especially fixated on this issue," according to a DP executive.

On January 24, Renho very publicly hounded Dentsu during a representative interpellation at a plenary session of the House of Councillors. Renho also has instructed Kazunori Yamanoi, chairman of the DP's Diet Affairs Committee, to keep pressing on this issue, including maneuvering to summon Dentsu officials as unsworn witnesses before the National Diet.

The DP has been receiving information about Dentsu's operating and labor conditions from Hakuhodo Inc., a key rival of Dentsu. The DP has mainly used Hakuhodo for its advertising programs, whereas Dentsu has close ties with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. In 2015, the DP placed orders worth about ¥2 billion with Hakuhodo, which included making advertising posters and online operations. That same year, the DP's deals with Dentsu amounted to less than ¥100 million. In response to calls by Yamanoi and other DP leaders, behind closed doors Hakuhodo has been exchanging information with party lawmakers involved in health and labor affairs as it seeks to twist the knife in Dentsu.

The DP has bristled at Dentsu's use of its connections with the LDP to be appointed the sole marketing agency for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. DP Deputy Secretary-General Yuichiro Tamaki has demanded Dentsu be stripped of this project. "Dentsu, which has committed serious law compliance violations, doesn't have the competence to singlehandedly manage operations for the Olympics," Tamaki insisted.

The DP is poised to keep the spotlight on the long-standing collusive relationship between Dentsu and the LDP—especially Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It looks like a proxy war between Dentsu and Hakuhodo is being waged in the Diet.

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This is a translation of an article from the February 2017 issue of Sentaku.