Japan Post Corp. has submitted a business plan to the government for a 10-year privatization process that begins Oct. 1. The company will serve as a holding company for four units: Yucho Bank, Kampo Insurance, a mail delivery firm and an over-the-counter services firm. The group will have some 241,400 employees. Yucho Bank’s initial assets will be 188 trillion yen, much more than the 100 trillion yen held by the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, the nation’s leading bank. Kampo Insurance’s initial assets will be 113 trillion yen, more than double the 51 trillion yen held by Nippon Life Insurance Co., the nation’s leading insurance firm.
As private companies, the Japan Post group companies must increase their efficiency to generate profits and survive. They need to develop new products and services, financial and otherwise, to satisfy customers’ needs. They also must acquire the skills to better manage their assets.
At the same time, they must make efforts to keep alive the bonds with people in the communities they serve. These bonds have been built by virtue of ubiquitous post office operations over more than 130 years. The fear exists that privatization may lead to the disappearance of services now extended by post offices in some rural and remote areas. The Japan Post group must prove that this fear is groundless.
At present the group is pushing a plan to reduce the number of its employees by 28,000 — more than 10 percent of total personnel. By this spring, collection and delivery of mail had ended at more than 1,000 post offices. Integration of post offices is being pursued. Care must be taken so that people will not suffer inconvenience because of these moves.
Central post offices near JR Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya stations will be redeveloped into high-rises by the end of fiscal 2011. Sections of the new buildings will be rented out. Profits from real estate transactions should be used to strengthen services in rural areas. Japan Post faces the dual task of producing profits in a fair manner while fulfilling its responsibility to people in regions where the profit-first principle should not be applied.
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