Postal privatization with service

The Lower House on Thursday passed a bill to revise the privatization scheme of the Japan Post group. The bill was jointly submitted to the Diet on April 3 by the Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito. It represents a rare case in which consultations among the three parties in the divided Diet has produced a bill.

The Diet is expected to enact it by the end of the current Diet session, which ends on June 21. It is hoped that the bill will improve the Japan Post group’s overall services.

As a result of the privatization pushed by the administration of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the Japan Post group consists of five companies. Japan Post Holdings has under its wing Japan Post Service (mail delivery), Japan Post Network (counter services at post offices), Japan Post Insurance and Japan Post Bank.

Under the current postal service privatization law, the government owns more than one-third of Japan Post Holdings’ shares, and the holding company is required to sell all its shares in Japan Post Insurance and Japan Post Bank by the end of September 2017. The new bill only stipulates that it should make efforts to sell those shares at an early date.

Currently, the counter services company is entrusted by the insurance company and the bank with the work of selling financial instruments and handling banking services. But workers who deliver mail to communities cannot carry out the work related to the insurance company and the bank because they are not employees of the counter services company.

After the privatization, people in remote or depopulated areas began complaining that nearby post offices were abolished or that mail delivery workers would not take their insurance premiums to post offices. The bill merges the mail delivery company and the counter services company, thus enabling mail delivery workers to handle services of the insurance company and the bank.

The bill requires post offices to carry out the three types of services — postal, insurance and banking services — across the nation. If the bill is enacted, post offices should do their best to increase conveniences for customers, especially in remote or depopulated areas.

Post offices are facing tough competition from email and package delivery service firms.

The new postal service company resulting from the merger should not only improve services for people but also carry out efficient management so that it can produce profits.