Six Cabinet ministers involved in the plan to privatize the postal system agreed Saturday that the plan might have to be delayed beyond its scheduled start in April 2007, officials said.

The delay is intended to give the government more time to get approval from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, where many members remain opposed to the plan or to privatization itself.

The six ministers, including postal privatization minister Heizo Takenaka and Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Taro Aso, began working Saturday morning to finish a legislative outline for postal privatization by Sunday night. The ministers met at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi instructed them on Friday to give up the weekend for the outline.

The officials said the ministers agreed to include a clause that states the start of the privatization process can be delayed if computer systems for privatized entities cannot be constructed in time.

The stipulation gives consideration to the Japan Post and the communications ministry, which have expressed concerns that the development of computer systems may take a long time and prevent the privatized postal entities from beginning in April 2007 as scheduled.

The ministers are expected to report the outline to Koizumi on Sunday night.

Koizumi, who considers the postal privatization a key element in his reform policies, is sticking to a plan to submit the bills to the Diet by the end of April so they can be enacted during the current Diet session, which is set to end on June 19.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said Friday the ministers will devise the outline based on both the basic privatization policy adopted by the government in September and compromises the government has already made with the LDP.

But the ministers will also have to bridge gaps among themselves on several pending issues, Hosoda said. One of those is whether to fully privatize postal savings and “kampo” life insurance operations.

The government is expected to present the outline to the LDP on Tuesday.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.