The Liberal Democratic Party on Thursday unanimously endorsed the hotly contested postal privatization bills that triggered the Sept. 11 general election.
The LDP won a landslide in the House of Representatives poll, apparently giving Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi a mandate to press ahead with his postal reform plans.
New Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, also endorsed the bills the same day.
The bills are expected to be approved at a Cabinet meeting Monday, before being reintroduced at a special Diet session later in the day.
No further amendments were made to the already-diluted legislation, though the government has amended the bills to delay the start of the privatization process by six months to October 2007.
The delay was tied to the necessity of resubmitting the bills, which were voted down last month by the House of Councilors, with many antireform LDP elements joining forces with opposition parties to kill them.
The rejection of the bills by the Upper House prompted Koizumi to call the Lower House general election.
And it now looks a sure bet that the bills will clear the Upper House, with many LDP rebels having uttered words of surrender in the wake of the election.
Even if the Upper House rejects the bills again, the ruling coalition has now won enough seats to secure the two-thirds Lower House majority necessary to override an Upper House vote.
“This shows that the most important thing in a democracy is the will of the people,” as the LDP read the election result as a mandate for postal reform, Hiroyuki Sonoda, chairman of a joint meeting on postal reform, told reporters.
The bills were approved by the joint meeting, attended by some 120 lawmakers, including many newly elected lawmakers, and later by higher decision-making bodies, including the Executive Council, by common consent.
Thursday’s joint meeting represented a stark contrast with those held before the postal privatization bills were originally submitted to the Diet in late April.
At that time, the joint meeting was thrown into turmoil, with many reform opponents railing angrily against LDP executives who tried to force the measures through.
The executives ended up ramming the bills through the Executive Council by deciding by majority for the first time.
Under the bills, Japan Post will be broken up into four entities — one each to oversee mail delivery, insurance, savings, and over-the-counter services.
The government will gradually reduce its stake in the units and complete the privatization process by September 2017, six months later than initially planned.
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