Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said his top economic policy goal for this year is winning approval to sell Japan Post, the world's largest saving bank, allowing private companies to manage some of its US$3.4 trillion in assets. \n"The private sector should be allowed to do what it does best," Koizumi said yesterday at a New Year's press conference in Tokyo. He will ask parliament this month to approve plans to split up and sell state-run postal services beginning in 2007. \nKoizumi faces opposition from members of his own ruling party to plans that would shrink Japan Post, helping Mizuho Financial Group Inc and other banks compete for deposits and provide other financial services. Koizumi may have to weaken his proposals to ensure the backing of dissident lawmakers, who say the sale will trigger job losses among Japan Post's 400,000 employees, according to Minoru Morita, a political analyst. \n"About a third of LDP [Liberal Democratic Party] lawmakers oppose Koizumi's selloff plan," said Morita, the head of Morita Research Institute and the author of books on public finance and domestic politics. "It may end up being privatization in name only." \nKoizumi's government, which includes coalition partner New Komeito, commands a 43-seat majority in the national parliament's 480-seat lower house. By itself, the LDP has a nine-seat majority. \nStrains within Koizumi's ruling LDP appeared last month when a committee endorsed proposals to force the postal service to provide savings and insurance policies at all its 25,000 branches once it is sold. \nKoizumi wants to end the role of Japan Post to provide universal services to make it easier for banks and insurers to compete, including selling their products at post offices. \nJapan Post, with about ?350 trillion (US$3.4 trillion) in postal savings and insurance policies, is the biggest buyer of state debt, holding about ?140 trillion of government bonds. \nKoizumi, the country's longest-serving prime minister in almost two decades, also vowed in yesterday's press conference to stick to efforts to curb public spending, close down or sell off state-run companies, and maintain other policies to ensure the world's second-largest economy continues to grow. \n"The economy has revived, but the conditions are still tough," Koizumi said. \nThe Nikkei 225 Stock Average, which rose 7.6 percent last year, gained 0.3 percent to 11,517.75 at the end of the first trading day of the year in Tokyo. \nSeparately, Tatsuya Ito, Japan's minister for financial services, pledged to bolster investors' confidence in the nation's financial industry to help the economy grow. \n"We need to build a credible financial market to offer financial functions that meet market users' needs," Ito said at a press conference in Tokyo to mark the first day of stock trading for the year. \nIto became Japan's chief bank regulator in September after his predecessor Heizo Takenaka left to oversee preparations to sell off Japan Post.
EXTRADITION DEAL? A former prosecutor said that the US Department of Justice might ask Taiwan to extradite the men in return for the US doing something in return The US won arrest warrants for three Taiwanese men — a former president of China-based Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co (福建晉華) and two engineers — charged with stealing secrets from Idaho-based Micron Technology Inc. The effort to apprehend the three men — former Fujian Jinhua president Stephen Chen (陳正坤), and Ho Chien-ting (何建廷) and Wang Yong-ming (王永銘), who work for Taiwan-based United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) — is notable because they were charged in 2018 in the first case filed under the “China initiative” of US President Donald Trump’s administration targeting trade-secret theft, hacking and economic espionage. However, legal experts have said
There was a net reduction last year in the number of Taipei residents and this year is expected to set a 23-year high for population decline in the city, Ministry of the Interior statistics released yesterday showed. From January to last month, 18,861 more people moved out of Taipei than moved into the capital, an increase of 7,000 from the same period last year, the data showed. That is a 7.2 percent decrease in the city’s population since the start of the year, the biggest drop in both percentage and total number among all municipalities and counties nationwide, the data showed. The data
COUNCILS CLASH: The Mainland Affairs Council said a new office in Hong Kong is to assist people with issues related to investment, study and employment in Taiwan The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday denied an accusation by the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council that its Taiwanese counterpart in the territory was “interfering with Hong Kong’s internal affairs.” The Hong Kong council leveled the accusation after Taipei’s Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Co-operation Council this month announced it would establish a Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office to facilitate humanitarian aid for Hong Kongers. The new office is scheduled to begin operations on Wednesday. The MAC yesterday asked the Hong Kong council to “not misinterpret” the government’s intentions. The two Taiwan-Hong Kong councils were established in 2010 to
IRRESPONSIBLE ATTITUDES? Some experts say the NHI system does not do enough to educate the public, or pay doctors to talk to patients, about healthy lifestyles While the life expectancy of Taiwanese newborns in 2018 reached 80.69 years, the number of years people spent in poor health hit a record high at 8.41 years, Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics showed on Saturday. Healthy life expectancy is calculated by a person’s life expectancy minus the time they spend in ill health, such as the loss of mobility, disabilities and chronic disease, based on medical records and calculations about the years they live with disabilities. The number of years that Taiwanese spend in poor health is increasing slowly, but steadily, rising by 0.46 years, or five-and-a-half months, between 2012