National

Koizumi seeks postal reformers

Next Cabinet to have 'appropriate,' not faction, picks

Kyodo

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said here Thursday he will appoint as ministers people who are willing to push ahead with the privatization of the nation’s postal services when he reshuffles the Cabinet in September.

“I plan to carefully ascertain whether people are cooperative toward postal reforms, and bear that in mind when making appointments,” Koizumi told reporters at a hotel after meeting with South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun on Wednesday.

The reforms of the postal system “are a major part of reforms of the Koizumi Cabinet,” he said. “There will be a large amount of bills involved, so a postal privatization plan will have to be compiled by the end of September.”

The three postal services — mail delivery, postal savings and “kampo” life insurance — are currently handled by Japan Post, a public corporation that took over the services from the state-run Postal Services Agency in April 2003.

The government plans to privatize the entity in stages, beginning 2007.

Koizumi said that when reshuffling the Cabinet, he will not adhere to the LDP’s past practice of handing out posts to the party’s factions in relation to the strength of each faction within the party.

Such a practice has been used by past leaders to win support from all factions to obtain a bigger power base within the party.

“My policy is to appoint appropriate people to the appropriate posts,” Koizumi said, adding that he could not say how large the Cabinet reshuffle will be.

He said no decision has been made on whether Heizo Takenaka, economic and fiscal policy minister, will be appointed minister in charge of postal privatization.

“I will think about it after the postal privatization plan is compiled, and looking carefully at the situation within the party,” he said.

Koizumi said there is a possibility that Shinzo Abe will be retained as LDP secretary general, despite Abe’s remarks about resigning from the key post.

“The decision will be made in September, so if you ask me about the possibility, I can’t say that it’s zero,” he said when asked whether Abe will stay on.

Abe has said he intends to resign as LDP secretary general at the time of the Cabinet reshuffle to take the blame for the party’s poor performance at the July 11 House of Councilors election.

Roh talks education

CHEJU ISLAND, South Korea (Kyodo) South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun proposed talks with Japan focusing on children’s education during his meeting Wednesday with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on this resort island, South Korean officials said Thursday.

Roh told Koizumi that while it may be difficult for the two countries to reconcile their views on historical events, they may be able to agree on how to educate children of the two nations in the future, they said.

Disputes have repeatedly emerged between the two countries over controversial remarks by Japanese lawmakers and government officials regarding the history of Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula between 1910 and 1945.

Japanese officials quoted Koizumi as telling Roh that he would like to promote exchanges between Japanese and South Korean children during school breaks.

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