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Postal privatization — Page 3
REIJI YOSHIDA
Staff writer

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reiterated his resolve Friday to split the nation’s state-run postal services into four privatized companies — a plan destined to put the prime minister and his own party on a collision course.

“I will make all-out efforts to realize postal privatization, believing it will open a new door for Japan,” Koizumi said in a policy speech before the Diet, which convened the same day.

Koizumi said the separated entities’ financial conditions will be publicized as a means of ensuring their independence.

His remarks echoed a basic policy that the government adopted last year, though some Liberal Democratic Party executives had demanded that the wording be watered down, fearing a backlash among many party members opposed to the initiative.

In his speech, Koizumi said postal services should be taken over by four entities: a mail delivery company, a postal savings firm, an insurance group and a company dealing with over-the-counter services.

Some LDP members have sought compromises, floating the notion of splitting the postal services into three entities instead of four.

It has also been suggested that the privatized companies share the burden of any losses accumulated by any single entity, such as the mail-delivery firm.

The Cabinet plans to submit postal privatization bills to the Diet by mid-March.

Turning to other issues, Koizumi said the government will promote construction of a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean regions, based on proposals issued at a U.N.-sponsored disaster reduction conference in Kobe.

The prime minister added that the government will try to double foreign direct investment in Japan — from 6.6 trillion yen in 2001 to 13.2 trillion yen by the end of next year.

The government will also maintain its “Visit Japan” campaign, which is aimed at increasing the number of annual foreign visitors from the current 6 million to 10 million by 2010, Koizumi said.

Koizumi backs Bush

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Friday renewed his support for U.S. President George W. Bush, who has pledged to fight tyranny in his second four-year term.

Koizumi said he believes it is an “ideal of the U.S. to spread freedom and democracy throughout the world” and that the country basically wants to achieve this peacefully, although it would not rule out the use of force to “defend the country.”

At a news conference earlier Friday, Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said that Japan will continue to cooperate with the United States.

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