Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi defied his foes Tuesday, stating that if he wins re-election in the Sept. 20 LDP presidential poll, the subsequent Cabinet he forms will be made up of individuals who support his policies.
At a news conference to mark Monday’s close of the ordinary Diet session, Koizumi said his key pledges in the Liberal Democratic Party poll will be to privatize postal services in April 2007 and to submit a bill aimed at privatizing public expressway companies in the next ordinary Diet session, which begins in January.
Koizumi’s term as LDP president and thus prime minister ends Sept. 30. If re-elected, he will have three more years to serve.
“If I am re-elected, I will work to make a law to privatize postal services in three years so that the privatized services will begin in April 2007,” Koizumi said. “I want to raise this issue in the September presidential election.”
LDP lawmakers opposed to Koizumi’s economic policies and postal service privatization want him to drop plans to create a small government and instead embrace a big government that spends more to prop up the economy.
Koizumi reiterated Tuesday, however, that he has no intention of changing his structural reform drive.
“I will definitely continue on with my reform steps and will fight firmly those who try to nip the buds of reform.”
Koizumi has angered his foes in the LDP by repeatedly saying his policy pledges in the LDP election will be the party’s platform in the next House of Representatives election, widely expected to be held in November.
He made the same remark Tuesday, suggesting that those who do not support him in the LDP election will not be considered for the Cabinet if he is re-elected.
“I believe a new Cabinet will be necessary after the presidential election to bring in people who support my reform agenda and who can assume the appropriate ministerial posts,” Koizumi said. “But I have not decided who will fill those posts. . . . I will decide after watching the presidential election.”
Referring to a newly enacted law to send Self-Defense Forces elements to Iraq, Koizumi stressed that Japanese military units will be dispatched only after a government fact-finding mission that may be sent in August deems the security situation to be safe.
The law stipulates that SDF units will operate only in noncombat areas, but opposition parties have said it is impossible to demarcate such areas at present in Iraq.
The government may privatize Japan Post, a public corporation dealing with postal services, in fiscal 2007 in line with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s plan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Tuesday.
“A prime minister’s idea should be a policy of the government,” he said. Koizumi and government officials will soon start work on fleshing out the plan, Fukuda said.
Koizumi told reporters earlier Tuesday that the postrelated public corporation should be privatized in April 2007, the starting month of fiscal 2007.
Koizumi said he is willing to start working toward the body’s privatization, including efforts to make relevant new laws, if he is re-elected leader of the Liberal Democratic Party in the Sept. 20 party race.
Re-election as party leader in the poll may allow him to serve as prime minister until September 2006 unless the LDP-led ruling coalition loses control of the Diet.
Koizumi is a proponent of privatization of the three postal services of mail delivery, postal savings and “kampo” life insurance. But many LDP lawmakers with vested interests in such services oppose the idea.
Japan Post was set up on April 1 as a public corporation to take over the Postal Services Agency’s postal services.