Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 195 (July 7, 2005)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
The bill related to the privatization of the postal services was passed by the House of Representatives. Even though some members of the Liberal Democratic Party voted against it, the bill passed by a slim margin of 5 votes, with 233 for and 228 against privatization.
I have been advancing structural reforms under the policies of "leave to the private sector what it can do" and "leave to the localities what they can do." It is at the heart of such reforms that the privatization of the postal services lies.
The bill sets out a structure whereby the private sector will manage the three postal services--mailing, savings, life insurance--which are currently operated by about 400,000 civil servants. The bill will ensure that the creativity and innovation of the private sector are harnessed to provide services that respond precisely to people's needs. Not only that, the injection of private sector knowledge will enable funds amounting to 340 trillion yen in postal savings and life insurance to be operated efficiently. The bill is therefore an important pillar that will support the revitalization of the economy by realizing "small government."
The bill has been compiled in a way that gives ample consideration to maintaining post offices in sparsely populated areas and on isolated outlying islands. Once privatization is realized, post offices will not be confined to providing the three services they have provided to date. Instead, they will have the freedom to venture into different lines of business, fully utilizing the knowledge and ingenuity that characterizes the private sector.
Tuesday's passing of the bill at the plenary session came after a cumulative total of about 110 hours of heated debate in the special committee, where opinions were raised by those in support of as well as those against the bill.
People agree to the general idea of the policy to "leave to the private sector what it can do." Once we get into concrete discussions of privatization of the postal services, however, deep-rooted opposition becomes apparent. I have been battling against a chorus of dissenting voices in order to bring opinion together, both externally and internally. We are at last approaching the ultimate target of the reforms.
The bill will now be deliberated in the House of Councillors. I will brace myself and give my all to ensure this bill is enacted.
July 7 in Japan is the day of the Star Festival, or Tanabata. It is said to be the one day of the year when the two stars Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair) are reunited across the Milky Way. When I was a child, I used to write my wishes on strips of paper and tie them onto the leafy fronds of bamboo branches.
Though I would not liken myself to Hikoboshi, I too will have the opportunity today to be reunited with world leaders on the occasion of the G8 Summit which is held once a year. This time it will take place in Gleneagles, Scotland.
At the end of June, I held a teleconference meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair who will be chairing the Summit. The main themes on the agenda are the issues of climate change and assistance to Africa.
Some people maintain the position that promoting environmental protection inevitably obstructs economic development. I think otherwise. Environmental protection and economic development are mutually achievable and sustainable. At the Summit, I will take the opportunity to present to the world the concepts of "mottainai" (literally translated as "don't waste what is valuable"), COOL BIZ and the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle). The 3Rs promote reduction of waste, reuse of products and recycling of resources. I will also introduce energy conservation measures through use of fuel cells, solar power generation and biomass as well as ways to break away from over-reliance on oil.
The issues of poverty and disease in Africa are important issues for Japan as a responsible member of the international community. There will be no peace and prosperity in the world unless the problems of Africa are resolved.
Last week, I invited ambassadors or their representatives from 33 African countries in Japan to my office, where I shared with them Japan's endeavors in providing assistance to Africa. I also stressed our expectation that African countries will take ownership of their own development.
Provided with the opportunity of this once-a-year event, I look forward to discussions on a variety of issues including situations around the world, United Nations reform, North Korea, Iraq and more.
* The title of this column "Lion Heart" is a reference to the Prime Minister's lion-like hairstyle and his unbending determination to advance structural reform.
- Japan-Lithuania Summit Meeting (July 4, 2005)
- Awards Ceremony to Present the Prime Minister's Commendations on Contributors to Public Safety (July 1, 2005)
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