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Anything in the U.S. remotely equal to Japan's Keidanren, or Federation of Economic Organizations, would generate nightmares for federal trustbusters and apoplexy in Ralph Nader. Keidanren raises money for the ruling Liberal Democrats and functions as the governing body for the interlocking Japanese business empire. It has no legal authority to tell its 110 trade and industrial-association members what to do. But its policy "guidelines" are rarely ignored. Lately, though, Keidanren has been accused by environmentalists of failing to stop pollution, and by consumerists of allowing prices to leap.

Shoring up Keidanren's...

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