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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Tuesday he is determined to privatize the nation’s massive postal services despite strong opposition from the Liberal Democratic Party, which he heads.

Koizumi made the pledge at the party’s annual convention at a Tokyo hotel, attended by the party’s Diet members and delegates from its prefectural chapters.

Privatization of the postal services will be a major issue in the Diet session that convenes Friday. The government plans to submit related bills in March.

The government will have to iron out the differences within the LDP to get the legislation through the Diet. The LDP is backed by postal workers, including the heads of so-called special regional post offices who are vehemently opposed to privatization.

“We must return to the spirit behind the formation of the LDP, which serves as a people’s party thinking about the prosperity of people as a whole, not representing some organizations,” Koizumi said.

Reform such as “postal privatization will be agreed to in principle but strongly opposed to in its application from now on,” he said. “But no reform, no growth. There’s no completion to reform, and I would like to proceed with ceaseless reform.”

On Tuesday, the LDP adopted a 2005 platform and pledged to draft revisions to the Constitution in November when it celebrates the 50th anniversary of its formation.

The party also pledged to revise the Fundamental Law of Education as soon as possible and strive to resolve the issue of Japanese who were abducted to North Korea decades ago.

Instead of privatization, the platform advocated carrying out “structural reforms” of postal businesses, medical and welfare programs, and administrative and fiscal systems in view of the nation’s shrinking population.

Takenori Kanzaki, leader of New Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, appeared as a guest speaker. He said he supports postal privatization and urged the disparate elements of the LDP to work together to overcome the party’s problems.

Kanzaki said of moves to revise the Constitution and education law: “Frankly speaking, there are differences between us. But we must come up with answers by sincerely discussing (the matters) and combining our wisdom.”

New Komeito touts itself as an accelerator of reform and a brake on rightist tendencies.

Other guest speakers included Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the Japan Business Federation; Kiyoshi Sasamori, chairman of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation; Kyoko Nakayama, a former Cabinet Secretariat adviser and hardliner toward North Korea; and archer Hiroshi Yamamoto, who won a silver medal at the Athens Olympics.

Nakayama said Japan must “be ready to apply economic sanctions at any time” in order to press North Korea into letting all the Japanese abductees return home before proceeding with normalization talks.

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