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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #132: May 22, 2003

Japan's Post Office to Cut 17,000 Jobs

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Japan's Post Office to Cut 17,000 Jobs"
(by AP) Atlanta Journal Constitution


Japan Post, as explained briefly in the article, was established this April as a public corporation to carry out certain services that had been handled by an arm of the government. The three major services transferred were Postal Service, Postal Savings, and Postal Life Insurance Services. What it did in terms of organization and personnel was to basically transfer everyone involved in relative services to the new corporation, and then placed a new person at the helm who had had a long-time experience and respectable track record in the real business world.

The very first set-up to deliver mail in Japan was established in 1871, as a part of national objective to modernize Japan, when dependable communication service was considered, rightly, to be a fundamental element. At the time, only the government had the resources to build such a nation-wide system.

Things have changed since then, over a period of more than a century, and owing to technological development and evolution of the society, these services began to be considered better for private sector to take care. Privatization proposal never made much progress, however, due to fierce opposition by both bureaucrats and unions. Mr Koizumi, a long time vocal proponent of privatization, even as the Prime Minister, had to accept a compromise of setting up a public corporation so as to at least detach it from the government itself.

Business plans were devised upon establishment of Japan Post, and in it was a plan to reduce the number of employees by about 20,000 in four year's time. The new action plan announced on May 21, which induced the article, has declared to expedite the process, to reduce the number of employees by 17,000 in two years, bringing it down from 280,000 to 263,000.

It should be noted, however, that the decrease is not realized through job terminations or lay-offs. As Japan Post has about 10,000 retiring employees every year, all that is necessary is to cut down new recruitments, and accordingly, it is not a threat to those already employed. Thus, the significance of the announcement is its implications toward the overall economy and the society, as this is just one indication of the issue of youth unemployment.

Last weekend, Japan Post conducted a recruitment examination aimed at new graduates for hiring 50 executive trainees. It has been reported about 10,000 applicants attended the first-phase exam. The popularity is indeed unusually high, especially for a new corporation supposedly on the way to further restructuring. The speculation is that those young applicants were attracted by the intermediate character of Japan Post, with possibilities of experiencing quasi-business world as a semi-independent public corporation while retaining job security as a quasi-government employee.

It is certainly encouraging to see young people tackling new challenges. And let us hope that they, and their predecessors already working for the corporation, would not fall to the comfort of job security or get into the habit of pursuing unproductive business ventures.

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