Nobuteru Ishihara, minister of land, infrastructure and transport, said Monday the government will own more than a third of the privatized entities of four public highway corporations after their privatization in fiscal 2005.

Ishihara told reporters after briefing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on four bills on the privatization plan that government ownership will be reconsidered with a review of the privatization legislation 10 years later.

He said government guarantees on bonds to be issued by the privatized entities will be limited.

The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry had planned to seek government ownership of more than 50 percent of the privatized entities. It dropped the plan following opposition from Koizumi, a strong advocate of privatization of the highway corporations. As a result, it will follow the same format used in the privatization move that created NTT Corp. — at least 33 percent government-owned, with foreign ownership less than 33 percent.

Naoki Inose and Eiko Oya, members of a government advisory panel on the privatization of the four highway corporations, have said they agree the government should not take a stake in the privatized entities, so their management can be independent. Inose said state ownership should not exceed one-third even if such ownership is allowed.

Koizumi has pledged to privatize the four corporations in fiscal 2005 under his policy of having what can be done by the private sector implemented by that sector.

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