LDP accuses party leadership of faking postal plan consensus

by Reiji Yoshida

A group of Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers accused its top executives Wednesday of falsely claiming a consensus on postal privatization matters the previous day in order to conduct further negotiations with the government.

Around 35 lawmakers led by former House of Representatives Speaker Tamisuke Watanuki held a protest meeting Wednesday, blaming LDP policy chief Kaoru Yosano for ending a meeting on postal issues without the consent of the majority of participants.

“Only around 10 or more people went out saying (Yosano) won blanket approval (from the participants). But around 60 people kept staying” in protest, said Hosei Norota, a senior LDP member from the Lower House. “This is a violation of an (LDP) rule. If they keep doing things like this, the situation will only get tougher to handle.”

Later Wednesday, LDP executives formally presented the government with proposals to amend the privatization plan.

The executives’ seven-point plan includes a permanent capital relationship between the privatized postal savings and insurance companies and the other spinoffs. The government is proposing the state-run postal services be split into four units and a holding company.

The executives also called for an increase to the government’s proposed 1 trillion yen to support post offices in sparsely populated areas.

Late Tuesday night, Yosano was trying to win over rank-and-file members still opposed to the postal privatization plan, asking them for a free hand to negotiate with the government further over modifications.

But the session ended in turmoil when Yosano abruptly left and the executives claimed they had a consensus, while many rank-and-file members stayed in the meeting and started shouting for it to be continued.

The participants at Wednesday’s protest meeting claimed they never gave Yosano the right to negotiate with the government, let alone advance approval for what Yosano might try to win from the government.

“We haven’t given blanket approval (to Yosano),” Watanuki told reporters. He said the group will later ask the government to confirm that.

Under party rules, the agreement of a policy panel is required for the LDP to approve any government-sponsored bill, in addition to the endorsement of the Executive Council, the LDP’s top decision-making body.