An LDP panel on postal deregulation agreed Wednesday to prioritize a bill that would authorize a public entity to take over government-run postal services and focus less on a bill to allow private firms to offer mail services.

The move goes against the desire of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, an advocate of postal services privatization. Koizumi has been hoping for discussions to be held simultaneously on both bills so they could be submitted to the Diet by late this month.

“We have nearly decided to hold separate discussions on the two bills,” said Yamato Inaba, head of the panel.

Inaba said that at its next meeting the panel will begin full-fledged discussions on the creation of the public postal entity by 2003, as stipulated under the law on reform of government ministries and agencies. “We will set up the public entity in 2003,” he said.

Koizumi has called for both bills to be enacted simultaneously to enable private companies to start mail services at the same time the new public corporation is established.

Some Liberal Democratic Party members are strongly opposed to Koizumi’s vision of privatizing mail delivery, postal savings and “kampo” (life) insurance because of their vested interests in postal services.

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