Ideas from business leaders should be invited when crafting plans to privatize Japan Post to ensure it is profitable from the get-go, according to Taro Aso, minister of internal affairs and communications.

“Can (the privatized entities) really make profits if academics and bureaucrats who have no experience in running a business gather and discuss the privatization plan among themselves?” Aso asked.

He was referring to a new government-appointed panel of intellectuals tasked with fleshing out details and making proposals to postal reform minister Heizo Takenaka.

“If business professionals look at the system, they must come up with very interesting ideas,” because Japan Post has as many as 270,000 employees and a national network of 24,000 post offices, Aso said. Opinions from business managers who have experience negotiating with labor unions would also be helpful, he said.

According to a basic plan approved by the Cabinet earlier this month, Japan Post will be split into four companies by the April 2007 outset of its privatization process.

Aso, 64, has played a major role in hammering out the basic postal privatization plan with Takenaka, who is concurrently economic and fiscal policy minister. Aso said he will continue cooperating with Takenaka as the government prepares legislation, despite opposition from within the Liberal Democratic Party. Countering criticism that Japan Post is hampering the private sector in parcel delivery services ahead of its privatization, Aso said its market share is still small compared with that of Yamato Transport Co.

On Tuesday, Yamato sought a court injunction to halt Japan Post’s parcel-handling tieup with Lawson Inc.

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