The Liberal Democratic Party may be torn apart if Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi goes ahead with his controversial plan to have four bills related to postal deregulation approved by the Cabinet on April 26, a top LDP policymaker warned Friday.
“If it is on April 26, the party will split up,” Taro Aso, chairman of the LDP Policy Research Council, reportedly told a meeting of the LDP Executive Council.
Aso cited strong opposition toward the move from within the council’s division overseeing postal services.
According to meeting participants, LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki voiced agreement with Aso, stating that any Cabinet decision on the issue made without the agreement of the division would be problematic.
Yamasaki told the meeting he and other key LDP policymakers may discuss the matter again with Koizumi.
LDP policy decisions are traditionally made by Policy Research Council divisions and then agreed to by the Executive Council before Cabinet endorsement is sought.
Koizumi instructed posts minister Toranosuke Katayama on Thursday to submit the four bills to the Diet before the Golden Week holiday period, which begins April 27.
The postal services division within the LDP Policy Research Council said Friday it will oppose the submission to the Diet of the four bills.
Members of the LDP panel said the bills should not be submitted yet as some issues remain unresolved and because they need to see details of related ministerial decrees before finalizing the bills.
One of the bills features measures to allow private firms to enter the mail services sector. Another calls for the establishment of a new public corporation to take over the three postal services — mail, postal savings and “kampo” insurance — from the government in 2003.
During the meeting, many panel members voiced concern that the quality of postal services may deteriorate if private firms are allowed to enter the sector.
The privatization issue is highly volatile, as many LDP lawmakers garner votes from post office chiefs across the country.
Koizumi is a strong advocate of privatizing the three postal services.
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