Japan Post President Masaharu Ikuta on Wednesday opposed proposals to abolish his entity’s postal savings and insurance services as part of the government’s privatization program.

“It is crucial to maintain the network of post offices,” Ikuta told a news conference.

The government-backed corporation in charge of postal services has a network of 24,000 post offices. It is the successor of the Postal Services Agency, whose operations were taken over by Japan Post on April 1.

Asked whether he backs the plan to scrap the postal savings and insurance services, which have been offered on the strength of the extensive network, Ikuta said, “I think such a thing will be very difficult.”

He also opposed the idea that Japan Post should directly purchase Japanese government bonds from the Finance Ministry, rather than from the bond market.

“Transactions should not be implemented in a manner that would make it impossible for the market to recognize them,” Ikuta said.

It was reported earlier that the Finance Ministry may make Japan Post purchase government bonds directly from the ministry when it floats new bonds.

In a related development the same day, posts minister Taro Aso balked at suggestions that the government should slash the number of post offices when Japan Post is privatized.

“We in the government will consider how to use the 24,000 post offices and their 280,000 employees efficiently in some way,” Aso said.

In Yabuki, Fukushima Prefecture, the minister of public management, home affairs, posts and telecommunications said “it would be nonsensical if the quality of services (at post offices) deteriorated as a result of privatization.”

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