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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:52 03/09/2007
News Review #26: April 25, 2002

LDP acquiesces on bills for postal deregulation

Reviewed By Hitoshi URABE


Article:
"LDP acquiesces on bills for postal deregulation"
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?np20020424a1.htm
Japan Times


Comments:
The article reports that for the bills relating to deregulation of postal services, the preview process by LDP, customarily done before the cabinetís submission, will be skipped, though very reluctantly on the part of many LDP members.

Lawmaking process in Japan is somewhat different from that of U.S. Having a parliamentary system, it is more akin to that of U.K. One of the major differences is seen in the powers to submit a bill. While only the members of Congress could introduce a bill in U.S., the Cabinet, along with the members of the Parliament, has the powers to do so in Japan. In fact, virtually all the legislations in Japan have been originated by the Cabinet, and those proposed by members of the Parliament are very rare.

It was in 1994 when Mr. Koizumi became the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications in the cabinet led by Mr. Miyazawa. To the astonishment of everyone, as soon as he took office, Mr. Koizumi began publicly advocating deregulation and privatization of postal services. It was astonishing, for one thing, as a politician, deemed to be a power seeker, was promoting to reduce some of his own powers. It was also surprising, especially for a significant number of diet members in both the ruling and opposing parties, because many of them were backed by local post office chiefs and postal labor forces, so the deregulation meant substantial cut back of the support they were enjoying.

When Mr. Koizumi became the prime minister last year, one of the top agenda items was this deregulation of postal services, and apparently he has been working on it ever since, finally materializing it in the form of a bill. As expected, there has been a strong resistance within the LDP. When asked in an interview on some members of LDP explicitly criticizing the bill, Mr. Koizumi replied with a marked frustration, saying that "This is a battle over whether the LDP will crush the Koizumi Cabinet or the Koizumi Cabinet will crush the LDP."

LDP, being in a ruling position for half a century with exception of only a few months, has had adopted and refined its own intricate internal systems and procedures to supervise the doings of the prime minister and the cabinet. Various committees, formed in line with respective ministries, must be convinced and their authorizations are required, prior to the cabinet for submitting a bill to either house of the Parliament. This time around, because conflict between majority of LDP and the PM was so severe, relative committees in LDP have had to give up forming a workable compromise.

Some say the preview process is a sophisticated way to run a parliamentary government so as to avoid unnecessary conflict between the parliament and the cabinet publicly. But another way of thinking is that if the cabinet were only a subset of the ruling party of the parliament, what would be the value of it, with its own structure and unique powers, among them the powers to submit a bill which is stipulated and guaranteed in the Constitution. Then whatever the cabinet has the authority to perform perhaps should be left to do so by itself based on its own judgment, as any meddling would only slow down the whole political process, and obscure responsibilities.

There is a possibility that this reported incident is a part of Mr. Koizumi's strategy, that by revealing such a practice, to give a chance for the people to realize the archaic internal workings of the LDP. He may have also wanted to appeal publicly by providing an example of all the hassle he has to go through everyday to get anything done, which might also function as an indirect response to claims and criticism that he is too slow in moving ahead.

In marking his first anniversary being the prime minister, Mr. Koizumi reiterated his strong will to deregulate postal services through his weekly e-mail magazine dispatched to two million subscribers.

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