Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expressed his strong determination Friday to clear all four bills on postal services deregulation in the current Diet session, braving fierce opposition from both the ruling and opposition blocs.
During a news conference marking the first anniversary of his taking office, Koizumi stressed he will not yield to pressure from his Liberal Democratic Party to separately pass the four bills.
Some LDP members want to enact only two bills mandating the establishment of a new public corporation that would take over the state-run postal services, leaving until the next Diet session — to be convened in autumn — to take up the remaining two, which would allow private firms to offer mail services.
“(The postal services bills) are the mainstay of my reform policies,” he said. “I cannot compromise on this issue.”
Koizumi called the legislation a litmus paper on whether change can be initiated within the LDP and the opposition camp, mainly the Democratic Party of Japan, as both sides are backed by organizations related to postal services. The LDP is supported by a group of post office chiefs — the party’s biggest vote-gathering machine — while the DPJ is backed by the Japan Postal Workers’ Union.
“The worst thing is to oppose reform efforts to simply gain votes from bureaucrats,” he said.
On other issues, Koizumi left open the possibility of a Cabinet reshuffle after the Diet session ends in June, backing down from his original principle to keep from changing Cabinet ministers while he is at the helm.
Koizumi said he believes Cabinet ministers should not be replaced often. Past prime ministers maintained a revolving-door Cabinet in order to keep power within the ruling parties.
“But I know there are many people within the LDP and the other ruling parties who have high expectations for a Cabinet reshuffle,” Koizumi said. “I will decide by considering various circumstances.”
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