Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Cabinet on Friday endorsed part of a package of bills on postal service deregulation, disregarding fierce opposition from some heavyweights in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

“The bills are impressive and epoch-making,” Koizumi told reporters after a Cabinet meeting, referring to the unusual move for the government to endorse bills without obtaining full LDP approval.

The government planned to submit them to the Diet later in the day.

The four bills would allow private firms to offer mail services and establish a new public corporation to take over the existing postal services — mail, savings and “kampo” life insurance — from the government in 2003.

But the Cabinet approved half of the package Friday. The two bills endorsed highlight basic policies related to postal deregulation and the establishment of the new public corporation.

The Cabinet plans to endorse the other two, which feature more detailed policies and rules to carry out the two plans, on May 7 because the bills still need to be ironed out, government officials said.

The issue of deregulating the postal services, one of Koizumi’s personal goals, is highly political as there are many lawmakers in the ruling parties with vested interests in postal services.

Toranosuke Katayama, public management, home affairs, posts and telecommunications minister, told reporters separately, “I want the Diet to start debating all four bills and pass all of them by the end of the current session,” which is scheduled to run through June 19.

Referring to the possibility that the Diet will fail to clear the bills as quickly as the government wishes due to stiff opposition from within the LDP, Katayama said, “My deputies and I will do our best to get them passed.”

But opponents in the LDP expressed their displeasure about Koizumi’s strong-armed approach on the issue and indicated they are unwilling to compromise.

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