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Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009

Aso riles LDP over postal stance

Ruling party cringes after closet postal rebel's confession mars 2005 election victory


Staff writer

Liberal Democratic Party members expressed dismay Friday at Prime Minister Taro Aso's remarks the previous day that he originally opposed postal privatization and was willing to review the splitup of the service.

Tsutomu Takebe, the party's secretary general when the LDP swept to victory in the 2005 general election under then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's postal privatization banner, said Aso's words revealed a lack of common sense.

The pledge was a major plank of the party's platform under Koizumi.

At a meeting of several LDP members called Friday by Upper House lawmaker Ichita Yamamoto, all agreed Aso should show more restraint in his comments.

"I am not sure what the prime minister's true intention is," Yamamoto declared after the meeting. "But saying that he was actually against postal privatization might send the wrong message to the people. We are very concerned about it."

Aso risked calling into question among voters the legitimacy of the 2005 election, Yamamoto said.

"The election campaign pledge is truly important for politicians, especially elections like the last one, where one issue becomes the focus and is fundamental for huge voter support," said Hideki Makihara, an LDP Lower House member.

"I think it is inexcusable" that LDP lawmakers who were elected in 2005 now come out against postal privatization, he added.

Aso was internal affairs and communications minister when postal privatization was approved by the Cabinet.

Japan Post Corp. was privatized in 2007, becoming Japan Post Holdings Co. comprising four firms: Japan Post Bank Co., Japan Post Insurance Co., Japan Post Service Co. and Japan Post Network Co.

The privatization process is scheduled to be reviewed next month according to three-year review schedule.



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