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The ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced its opposition Oct. 2 to a proposal by a government advisory panel to privatize two of the three postal services currently provided by the Posts and Telecommunications Ministry.During Diet debate, Kenji Manabe, policy chief of the LDP’s House of Councilors members, demanded that Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto carefully examine the merits and demerits of the current services and those to be offered when postal savings and “kanpo” life insurance services are privatized in the future. Manabe made the remark during his interpellation of Hashimoto’s policy speech at a plenary session of the House of Councilors.The Administrative Reform Council, headed by Hashimoto, recommended in an interim report that the life insurance service offered at post offices be privatized and that postal savings be eventually privatized, while maintaining mail delivery as a state-run operation.However, Hashimoto was noncommittal about the issue, and replied only that improved proposals would be forthcoming from the LDP and its two smaller non-Cabinet allies — the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake — and will be accepted by the council.The LDP, SDP and Sakigake have just started discussing the interim report. The reform panel is scheduled to compile its final report in November. The LDP, which receives the support of organizations representing postal workers and regional post office chiefs, has been strongly opposed to the privatization plan.Manabe also questioned the legitimacy of the council, saying it is just a government advisory body whose members are selected without Diet approval. “It would bring about an undesirable result if the opinion of the council is given priority over the opinion of the ruling alliance (which consists of those who are elected and entrusted by the public),” Manabe argued.Hashimoto did not answer the question.

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