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Internal affairs minister Tsutomu Sato urged Japan Post Holdings Co. on Friday to freeze its initial public offerings of shares in itself and two of its subsidiaries planned for fiscal 2010.

“No one believes stock offerings are appropriate,” Sato told a news conference.

The government ordered Japan Post in April to improve its business practices following several scandals, including its aborted sale of the Kampo no Yado resort inn network.

“I doubt if it should consider the matter while carrying out business improvements over the next one year,” the minister said.

Sato touched on the IPO freeze for the first time since taking the helm of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

He succeeded Kunio Hatoyama, who resigned June 12 to protest Prime Minister Taro Aso’s decision to allow Yoshifumi Nishikawa to retain the Japan Post presidency, despite the scandals.

Sato’s remarks on the IPO freeze are expected to prompt calls to reconsider the privatization of the postal system, which started in October 2007 with its breakup into Japan Post as a holding company and four subsidiaries under it.

Sato had earlier called for re-examining the privatization process, which is planned to take 10 years.

Japan Post has plans to list itself and two subsidiaries — Japan Post Bank Co. and Japan Post Insurance Co. — in fiscal 2010 at the earliest. Japan Post is required under law to release all shares in the two subsidiaries by September 2017. The government is set to retain an equity stake of at least one-third in the holding company even after its IPO.

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