Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi denied Wednesday he plans to set up an official committee on privatizing Japan’s postal services to boost studies that his private panel conducted in 2001 and 2002.

“I have no such idea,” Koizumi told reporters at his office, commenting on a business daily’s report about the possibility. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda also denied it at a news conference earlier Wednesday.

The report came after Koizumi declared Tuesday his intention to privatize the three postal services in fiscal 2007 despite opposition from many heavyweights in the Liberal Democratic Party, which he heads. Fleshing out the plan has been a political focus.

Koizumi is a proponent of privatizing the three postal services of mail delivery, “kampo” life insurance and postal savings. The public corporation Japan Post currently deals with them.

Koizumi’s private panel headed by economist Naoki Tanaka was launched in 2001. The panel drafted a final report about privatization of the postal services last year, but failed to present in it a clear outline for the project.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported in its Wednesday morning editions that Koizumi is considering upgrading the panel to an official advisory body backed by law. Specifically, he intends to establish a postal privatization committee under Article 8 of the National Government Organization Law, the daily said.

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