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A draft definition made public Wednesday by the posts ministry shows private companies will be excluded from handling most forms of direct mail, thereby limiting their scope under planned postal service reform.

The definition was revealed in a draft ministerial ordinance the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry submitted to a House of Representatives committee.

Other onerous conditions would also be placed on new entries.

According to the draft ordinance, private firms would be required to set up 99,000 mail boxes nationwide before being authorized as full-scale entrants into the service.

The draft was sent to the Lower House committee after the government and coalition parties submitted a set of bills on postal service deregulation.

Under the planned deregulation of mail services, private firms would only be allowed to handle certain types of mail, such as packages, books, magazines, newspapers and other printed materials, including catalogs.

Mail such as postcards, letters, bills and receipts would be the domain of a proposed public corporation and private entities that are permitted to enter the service on a full-scale basis after receiving government authorization.

But some types of mail fall into a gray area between the two categories — including direct mail, which currently accounts for about 25 percent of overall mail service — prompting calls for the government to provide a clear definition of the types of mail private companies would be able to handle.

According to the draft definition, direct mail would mostly remain in the hands of the public corporation and authorized private companies.

Private companies would be permitted to handle direct mail in the form of fliers whose messages are addressed to the general public, credit card mail and other items such as merchandise coupons.

No companies plan to enter the service on a full-scale basis, meaning the public corporation will maintain an effective monopoly over mail delivery.

Companies that earlier expressed interest in entering the mail services sector on a full-scale basis, including Yamato Transport Co., soon dropped their plans when they learned of the strict conditions.

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