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A government-sponsored bill that waters down the postal privatization reforms pushed through by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi cleared the Lower House on Thursday, which may allow the government to retain control of the banking, mail and insurance juggernaut for years to come.

The bill, jointly submitted by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and main opposition forces the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan and New Komeito, would scrap the deadline for the government’s divestiture from what was called the world’s largest bank and possibly let the bank and postal insurance units stay together under the Japan Post group.

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