Several ruling coalition politicians and Cabinet ministers remained at odds Monday over whether to split Japan Post into four firms in 2007, the first year of the planned 10-year privatization process, officials said.

Participants at the morning talks also remained at loggerheads over a proposal to get the entire Cabinet of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to endorse the outline of the privatization plan at a meeting Friday, the officials said.

The participants included Shinzo Abe and Tetsuzo Fuyushiba; the secretaries general of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito; Heizo Takenaka, economy and fiscal policy minister; Hiroyuki Hosoda, chief Cabinet secretary; and posts minister Taro Aso.

Koizumi has said he wants the Cabinet to endorse the outline at Friday’s meeting, but most LDP lawmakers oppose the outline due to what they believe are a number of defects.

The outline was drawn up earlier at the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, led by Koizumi.

At Monday’s meeting, Abe asked the participants to reconcile their differences by the end of the day over various points of the privatization plan, including the issue of whether to divide Japan Post from the very start of the process, they said.

Takenaka and Aso promised to make efforts to do so, they said.

Mikio Aoki, one of the participants and the leader of LDP lawmakers in the House of Councilors, said he opposed the plan to secure a Cabinet consensus Friday. “It is too sudden a move,” he said.

But Hosoda said, “We will work (to eliminate differences) over the next five days.”

After Hosoda briefed Koizumi on the morning meeting, the prime minister demanded greater efforts, saying, “I want everyone to sweat.”

In the course of the talks, Takenaka, a supporter of the postal privatization plan, handed out copies of a dossier that included a summary of the contentious issues related to the proposed plan.

In the dossier, according to the officials, Takenaka suggested he is ready to discuss the appropriateness of splitting up Japan Post into four entities from April 2007.

The remark was taken to mean his conditional readiness to back the ruling coalition’s proposal to start the privatization process without splitting up Japan Post from 2007, they said.

Also present at the talks were LDP Policy Research Council chief Fukushiro Nukaga and his New Komeito counterpart, Kazuo Kitagawa, as well as Jin Murai, chairman of the LDP’s ad hoc committee on Japan Post privatization affairs.

The proposed outline calls for the government to privatize Japan Post in stages beginning in April 2007 and complete the process by 2017.

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