Clarity and communication key to postal reform, say LDP execs

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Newly appointed executives of the Liberal Democratic Party pledged Wednesday to do their utmost to iron out differences over postal reform within the party so that a relevant bill can be submitted to the Diet next spring.

They also said the objective and course of the privatization process must be thoroughly explained in order to promote better understanding among the public, as well as among LDP members.

“I believe privatization (of the nation’s postal operations) itself cannot meet much opposition from within the party,” LDP Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe told reporters.

But “it is natural that various opinions exist as to what kind of privatization should be pursued and how to proceed with an ideal postal system reform,” he said.

“I think we need to make effort to open up (discussions) within the party and make explanations (on privatization) clearly understandable both within and outside the party.”

Takebe added that “communication is the key word” in pushing the process forward.

Asked whether the party would seek changes to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s basic plan to privatize the postal system by splitting Japan Post into four units in 2007, Takebe did not rule out this possibility.

The basic plan has been officially approved by Koizumi’s Cabinet, though it has not been endorsed by the LDP. Many LDP lawmakers remain opposed to privatizing the postal organization, which has been a solid vote-gathering machine for the party in elections.

Fumio Kyuma, the newly appointed chief of the decision-making Executive Council, said the LDP will hold discussions with the government to agree on a common set of policies and explain to the public why privatization is necessary.

The government, for its part, needs to work out details of the privatization scheme so that a necessary bill can be introduced to the Diet, he said.

“There are concerns among the lawmakers and the people over whether the regional network of post offices can be maintained in the future, so as long as (we) proceed with a persuasive argument that there need be no such fears, (we) would be able to find common ground,” Kyuma said.

However, Kyuma warned that should the prime minister try to get a perfect score in carrying out all the pillars of his scheme — privatizing postal savings, postal life insurance and postal services, as well as depriving postal workers of their status as public servants — “there would emerge more than necessary strains (within the party).”

Kyuma said he would rather try to seek a “pass mark” of 85 out of 100.

Meanwhile, Kaoru Yosano, the new chief of the party’s Policy Affairs Research Council, believes there is a broad consensus within the LDP in favor of postal privatization.

However, there are various opinions and difficulties within the party, and the party executives must make an effort to remove such obstacles, he said.

“Privatization itself is important but the process beforehand is also important,” Yosano said. “The important thing is to thoroughly explaining to the people, and so both government and the LDP should fulfill their responsibilities to explain from now on.”