Japan Post will close 28 of its 120 leisure accommodation facilities nationwide before its privatization process begins in April 2007, sources said Wednesday.

Japan Post currently has 97 facilities, mostly hotels and guest houses, for customers of its life insurance services, and 23 facilities for customers of its postal savings services.

Of the insurance-related facilities, Japan Post is considering shutting down five in fiscal 2005 and 19 in fiscal 2006. It plans to close four of the postal savings-related facilities in fiscal 2006.

According to Japan Post estimates, the insurance-related facilities incurred a pretax loss of 17.1 billion yen in fiscal 2004. They are expected to show a 600 million yen profit in fiscal 2009 due to rationalization effects.

Postal savings-related facilities are estimated to have logged a pretax loss of 9.5 billion yen in fiscal 2004. They are forecast to post a profit of 100 million yen in fiscal 2006.

The government has formulated a policy of closing or selling all the remaining accommodation facilities owned by Japan Post within five years of the April 2007 start to the 10-year privatization process.

Ministop for Japan Post

Convenience store chain Ministop Co. said Tuesday it has agreed to handle parcels for government-backed Japan Post starting June 1 at its 1,684 outlets across Japan, and will sever its exclusive contract with major private delivery firm Yamato Transport Co.

Ministop, which is run by the Aeon Co. supermarket chain, will be the second Japanese convenience store chain to join hands with Japan Post on door-to-door delivery service. Lawson Inc. teamed up with the state-backed postal service provider in November, and its tieup with Yamato was also severed in the process.

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