TOKYO — Japan's post office and its huge pool of funds should be used to help revitalise local communities, the postal minister said Friday as the new government revisits its predecessor's privatisation efforts.
"We will think outside of the status quo. We will utilise the postal funds in local communities where the money was collected," said Shizuka Kamei, who also serves as financial services minister.
"The postal system is very good at collecting money, but lacks professional know-how of how to invest it. To do that, we will explore ways to work with local financial institutions," he said in a speech.
Kamei is a vociferous opponent of the free-market reforms of former premier Junichiro Koizumi, who began the process of breaking up Japan Post as part of his agenda to streamline the bloated public sector.
The postal system was broken up in October 2007 into four units, creating a new commercial bank with the world's largest savings.
But Kamei said he did not intend to return the sprawling mail operator to its former state.
"I have absolutely no plan to make the postal system the way it was before Mr. Koizumi demolished it," said Kamei, the head of a small party that is in coalition with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's Democratic Party.
He said big business had developed a "law-of-the-jungle" mentality under Koizumi, who was premier from 2001 to 2006 and had close ties with then US president George W. Bush.
Koizumi argued that the post office encouraged wasteful public spending through its massive investments in government bonds, but its supporters see it is as a vital lifeline in rural communities.
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