In a remark that may be taken as a step backward, Koko Sato, the newly appointed director general of the Management and Coordination Agency, said Sept. 12 that the government’s final administrative streamlining plan may be late.

“The plan should be worked out by close consultation between the Administrative Reform Council and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its allies,” said Sato, who on Sept. 11 became the minister in charge of administrative reform. “We should place importance on the process of their discussion. So it seems to be very difficult to compile the final report by the end of November (when the report is due),” he said.

The blue-ribbon government panel on administrative reform, headed by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, drafted its preliminary report last week suggesting that the current 22 government ministries and agencies be reorganized into 13, and that two of the controversial three services of the Posts and Telecommunications Ministry be privatized.

A number of LDP lawmakers have voiced their opposition to the reform plan. Sato, who had been head of an LDP panel on administrative reform until Sept. 10, said that it will take considerable time to consolidate the diverse opinions of the LDP into one conclusion.

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