The Japan Chamber of Commerce is the only one of the four 'peak associations' of Japanese business to have a pre-war history. It was originally founded in 1892 as the Liaison Council of Chambers of Commerce (Shōkō kaigisho rengōkai), and was consolidated under its present name in 1927, following a change in the law. Between 1943 and 1952 it experienced various changes of name and status, being for a while up to 1952 under the umbrella of the Federation of Economic Organisations (Keidanren). From 1952, however, it has been organisationally rather stable.
Its function is to represent Chambers of Commerce throughout the country, and conduct research and liaison activities of benefit to them. Of the four peak associations it is the closest to the small- and medium-firm sector, and as such contrasts most sharply with Keidanren.
This organisation of businessmen was founded in April 1946. Its name in English is not a translation of its name in Japanese, which literally means 'Association of Economic Friends'. It differed from the Federation of Economic Organisations (Keidanren) in being based on individual, rather than corporate, membership. Its members were middle-ranking rather than at the top of their companies, and, at least in its early years, it maintained a relatively progressive vision promoting economic democratisation and the creation of a State committed to peace. It was prepared to confront the more atavistic businessmen from the pre-war period, and favoured communication with labour unions in preference to confrontation. Its ideas about management were progressive and in the immediate post-war years it advocated something close to what today would be called 'stakeholder democracy'.
Gradually, however, Keizai Dōyūkai became more conservative, so that by the 1960s and 1970s it had become difficult to distinguish its views from those of the other business federations. Although it continued to pronounce on certain issues, generally speaking its pronouncements had become bland and in conformity with mainstream business thinking, rather than radical and thought-provoking as they had been in the immediate post-war years.
On some definitions, the Japan Communist Party is the oldest political party in the country. An illegal party was founded in 1922, and existed in a spasmodic fashion, persecuted by the authorities, until at least the mid-1930s. From the early 1930s it also suffered from recantations by leading members (the so-called tenkō phenomenon). Most of its leaders who had not recanted were in gaol. Such political activity as they could still conduct was influenced by a series of 'theses' from the Comintern-an organisation that had scant appreciation of the conditions under which the movement was operating. This was, however, the only party in Japan that called for the abolition of the Emperor system (see EMPEROR