Japan Post Under New Management Led by Former Bureaucrats
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Posted 10/28/09 , edited 10/28/09
Japan Post under new management led by former bureaucrats

Wednesday 28th October, 04:53 PM JST


Japan Post Holdings Co announced a new management led by former bureaucrats Wednesday as the government is changing its predecessor’s postal privatization plan led by managers picked from the private sector. Former Vice Finance Minister Jiro Saito succeeded Yoshifumi Nishikawa as Japan Post president, while former Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary Atsuo Saka and former senior postal services agency official Seijiro Adachi were appointed as deputy presidents.

The appointments appear against the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s policy of banning bureaucrats from taking up posts with government affiliates. But Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama defended the appointments, saying Saito has 14 years of experience in the private sector after retiring from the bureaucracy.

‘‘I believe he is competent and the right person should be placed in the right position,’’ he said in the plenary session of the House of Representatives. ‘‘We just have to see how he manages.’’

The major management shuffle came as the DPJ-led government thinks that Japan Post’s quality of operation has deteriorated under the postal privatization process, launched in line with former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s reform initiative.

Under the new management, the government wants Japan Post to put more emphasis on maintaining public service in its work, rather than on business efficiency.

‘‘This is a historic day,’’ Shizuka Kamei, the state minister in charge of postal reforms, said.

Saito’s predecessor Nishikawa resigned as Japan Post president at a board meeting Wednesday morning. He had headed Japan Post’s privatization process since the beginning in October 2007.

Saito formally assumed the presidency after obtaining approval from the entity’s sole shareholder—the government—as well as the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, which is in charge of overseeing Japan’s postal system.

Besides Saito and the two deputy presidents, Japan Post now has two more deputies and 11 new outside directors.

Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Tadashi Okamura, former Hitotsubashi University President Hiromitsu Ishi and former Prosecutor General Akio Harada are among the outside directors.

Japan began the 10-year process of privatizing state-run postal services in October 2007, when the Liberal Democratic Party was in power, creating four companies to provide mail delivery, banking, insurance and over-the-counter services under the Japan Post umbrella.

The DPJ-led government plans to review Japan Post’s structure while working in coordination with Saito, previously the president of the Tokyo Financial Exchange Inc.

Under the original plan crafted by LDP-led governments, Japan Post would shift from being wholly owned by the state to a company in which the government holds a one-third stake and would sell its stakes in the banking and insurance units so they could be listed.

The DPJ-led ruling coalition aims to freeze the sale of the two Japan Post units’ shares, having the Diet clear a bill to that effect during the current extraordinary Diet session.

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