Okada backs some postal privatization

Democratic Party of Japan leader Katsuya Okada has expressed support for privatizing Japan Post’s savings and life insurance businesses but indicated caution over privatizing mail delivery.

“There is no need for the state” to continue postal savings and life insurance businesses, the chief of the main opposition party said in appearances on Sunday morning TV talk shows.

Okada also said it is necessary to promote discussion with workers at Japan Post over the privatization.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi hopes to endorse a basic policy for privatizing the nation’s postal services at Friday’s Cabinet meeting.

The Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy has been working on the blueprint, discussing such contentious issues as the timing of dividing Japan Post into four independent companies for mail delivery, postal savings, life insurance and management of the network of over-the-counter services at post offices.

The draft of the blueprint stipulates that the government will privatize the public postal cooperation in stages beginning in April 2007 and complete the process by 2017.

Okada also reiterated his support for building a secular war memorial as an alternative to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine.

“There is no secular facility dedicated for war dead, and I think such a facility is necessary,” Okada said.

The memorial was proposed in 2002 by a government advisory panel as a means to help resolve the controversy surrounding Yasukuni Shrine, which is dedicated to Japan’s war dead, including Class-A war criminals.