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Japan Post drafts privatization plan

Japan Post Corporation has outlined a 10-year privatization plan that will see the country's sprawling postal operator split into four entities: banking, insurance, mail delivery and counter services.

The move, a key pillar in prime minister Junichiro Koizumi’s economic reforms, aims to expand the scope of Japan Post’s businesses to match those of its competitors when it becomes a mammoth private group with a workforce of some 250,000.

According to Japanese press reports, the new postal savings bank – tentatively named Yucho Bank – will have JPY227 trillion in assets, making it the biggest bank in the world by assets

Yoshifumi Nishikawa, the head of Japan Post Corporation, which is to become the holding company of the four units, said the bank will also provide personal loans, in addition to selling bonds and investment trusts at 233 outlets across the country.

The postal insurance business, earmarked as Kampo Life Insurance, will have assets totaling JPY114.6 trillion. The unit will operate 81 standalone outlets, but will also offer its services at the postal group’s network of 24,000 post offices.

Japan Post’s mail delivery business will have approximately 106,800 employees spread across 14 central and regional headquarters. There will be nearly 1,100 branches, and, according to reports, the unit will also explore handling international distribution in other Asian countries.

While some critics have complained that the sheer size of the new companies will give them an unfair advantage over rivals, a Japan Post spokesperson said the privatization would bring more competition, especially to the banking sector.