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146 lawmakers launch campaign against postal privatization.

TOKYO, Dec. 6 Kyodo

A group of 146 House of Councillors politicians launched a campaign Thursday to oppose Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's drive to privatize Japan's postal services.

At over half the 247-member upper chamber, the group consists of legislators from both ruling and opposition parties. There were 104 members at the inaugural meeting.

Former Justice Minister Takao Jinnouchi, elected head of the group at the meeting, said it should carefully study public problems that may arise from privatization of the three postal services of mail, savings and insurance.

The services have great influence on the public, said Jinnouchi, a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) politician in the LDP's dominant faction, led by former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. The anti-privatization move was apparently initiated by LDP politicians with vested interests in Japan's postal services.

Mototaka Ito, former head of the Japan Postal Workers' Union and a member of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, was elected deputy head of the group.

''We are all aware that the prime minister is an advocate of privatization of the postal services. Members share the sense of crisis in that respect,'' Ito told reporters after the meeting.

The group is apparently aiming to support the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications, which is at odds with Koizumi over how much postal services should be privatized when a new public postal corporation is set up in 2003.

The Postal Services Agency currently has a monopoly on mail services in the country.

Participants said the group plans to strengthen opposition to full privatization of the services with House of Representatives lawmakers.

It also wants to soon submit to Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Minister Toranosuke Katayama a resolution calling for the maintenance of the networks of post offices and of the so-called ''universal services'' under which mail is delivered at the same rate.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Dec 10, 2001
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