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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 February 4 - 10  > Aso’s irresponsible ‘change of mind’ remark about postal service privatization causes repercussions
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2009 February 4 - 10 [POLITICS]

Aso’s irresponsible ‘change of mind’ remark about postal service privatization causes repercussions

February 7 & 8, 2009
Prime Minister Aso Taro’s remark concerning the privatized Japanese postal services has caused a stir.

At the House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on February 5, Aso stated, “It is time to review once again whether the breaking up of postal services into four entities was really good in terms of efficiency.”

In the question and answer session, Aso said that he was the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications in Prime Minister Koizumi Jun’ichiro cabinet, but that he was not in favor of the privatization when the cabinet approved the privatization plan in 2005.

Demanded by the U.S. government and Japanese business circles, the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties used their force of majority to get the bill to privatize the postal services enacted.

But the postal privatization meant cuts in public services that the people need, including the elimination of local post offices in underpopulated areas.

Japanese Communist Party Policy Commission Chair Koike Akira on a TV debate program on February 7 said, “The ruling parties insisted that splitting the postal services into four entities is the heart of the privatization scheme, but we pointed out that it would have adverse effects. Now that the prime minister says it is necessary to review the heart of the matter, we should start again from scratch.”

The prime minister may have made the remark due to public criticisms of and dissatisfaction with the privatized postal services. But the question remains unanswered concerning his responsibility for supporting the privatization bill as a cabinet member and voting for it in the plenary session.

How to solve the various problems arising from the “structural reform” policies is to be the main theme in the current Diet discussions. Even ruling coalition members are raising questions about the “reform” scheme, which is under severe public criticism. LDP House of Representatives member Otsuji Hidehisa stated at a Diet session, “The fact that neo-liberalism is a failed policy has been proven by the ongoing global economic downturn.”

Although Prime Minister Aso acknowledged “strains” caused by the “reform” scheme, he is repeatedly calling for the need to further “develop reform policies.”

The Aso Cabinet is now in too desperate a situation to decide if it should change or continue to promote the “structural reform” scheme.
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