A group of 101 Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers met Wednesday to reiterate their opposition to the government’s postal privatization plan and ruled out any compromise on the issue.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi meanwhile renewed his pledge not to change the postal reform framework adopted by his Cabinet earlier this month.
The standoff between Koizumi and his opponents in the LDP, of which he is president, is making it increasingly difficult for the government to meet its goal of submitting its postal privatization bills to the Diet by the end of the month.
At Wednesday’s meeting, organized and chaired by former House of Representatives Speaker Tamisuke Watanuki, the lawmakers adopted a resolution opposing the government’s plan and released their own outline to reform Japan Post while keeping it a semigovernmental corporation.
Asked what compromises the group might make, key member Hisaoki Kamei said the Koizumi plan was “totally incompatible” with the group’s position.
Last week, 96 lawmakers attended a similar meeting also organized by Watanuki.
Time is now running out for the government’s self-imposed end-of-the-month deadline to submit the postal bills. Government officials said it would take about two to three weeks to formulate the bills once the LDP has endorsed them.
“The situation is now extremely severe,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said.
The government initially hoped to get an endorsement from the LDP by Thursday in a special session of the Executive Council, the party’s top-decision-making body.
But LDP executives decided they would be unable to reach a consensus to this effect after a joint meeting Wednesday of the LDP’s policy panels on postal reform, in which participants expressed strong opposition to the government’s plan.
Koizumi had said earlier he hoped to submit the reform bills by the end of the month to give the Diet sufficient time to deliberate before the end of the regular session on June 19.
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