Koizumi softness covers hard resolve

by Reiji Yoshida

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi may have attempted the soft sell when presenting his contentious postal privatization bills in the House of Councilors this week, but his remarks Thursday show his resolve to get the legislation passed is as strong as ever.

Koizumi, speaking during an Upper House plenary session Wednesday, promised “sincerity” as the bills make their way through the chamber.

Several members of his Liberal Democratic Party said they were happy with his low-key approach.

But Thursday, he told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence that this new tactic does not mean he is willing to make any substantial changes to the bills.

“Nothing has changed in substance” to my position on postal reform, Koizumi said. “I will explain (my plan) more carefully so that it will be easier to win the understanding” of LDP members.

“I will kick my habit of speaking in a rapid-fire manner” during Diet sessions to soften up opponents, he said.

During the Upper House session, Koizumi hinted the government would review the organizational structure of the postal firms after privatization.

Several LDP members said they wondered if his remarks were an indication he is willing to make more substantial compromises to his privatization package, but some postal reform opponents said he was merely posturing.