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2008年12月 9日 (火)

民営郵政―改革阻む政治と経営陣

2008/12/9
--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 8(IHT/Asahi: December 9,2008)

EDITORIAL: Postal privatization

民営郵政―改革阻む政治と経営陣

Japan's privatization of postal services is being imperiled by a compound crisis of political confusion and failing management at the newly created postal companies.

 これは複合危機である。政治の混迷と、民営郵政の経営の失敗が複合して、郵政改革そのものが迷走しかねない状況に陥っている。

At the heart of the political turmoil surrounding postal reform is a bill to freeze the planned sale of government-held shares in Japan Post companies.

 政治の混迷の中心にあるのは「郵政株式売却凍結法案」だ。

The bill was jointly submitted to the Upper House a year ago by three opposition parties--Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), the Social Democratic Party and the People's New Party. After approval by the opposition-controlled Upper House, the bill was sent to the Lower House, but deliberation on it has yet to be concluded.

 民主党、社民党、国民新党が1年前に参院へ出して可決したあと、衆院で継続審議になってきた。

The law to privatize Japan's postal system requires the government to sell its stakes in Japan Post Holdings Co. and two of the companies operating under the holding company--Japan Post Bank Co. and Japan Post Insurance Co.--to the public.

民営郵政のうち、持ち株会社の日本郵政と子会社の銀行、保険2社は、株式を一般へ売却していくことが法律で決まっている。

The opposition-sponsored bill is designed to freeze sales of the shares and thereby pave the way for a fundamental review of the group's management.

これを凍結し、経営体制の抜本的見直しにつなぐのが狙いだ。

Now, Minshuto, the largest opposition party, is urging the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to put the bill to a vote in the Lower House before a vote on vital legislation to allow the government to inject cash into banks facing a possible capital inadequacy.

 ここへきて民主は、重要法案の金融機能強化法改正案の前に凍結法案を採決するよう、自民に迫ってきた。

Minshuto is betting that killing the bill will cost the LDP the huge "postal vote," long a bedrock of political support for the ruling party, in the next Lower House election.

自民が否決すれば、長らく自民を支えてきた「郵政票」の自民離れが、総選挙を控えて決定的になるからだ。

The LDP has decided to vote down the bill by the end of the week. The party should reject the bill since the planned sales of shares in the Japan Post companies and the listing of their stocks constitute the core of the privatization plan, which is aimed at improving the efficiency of the postal businesses for their independence.

 自民は、今週中に凍結法案を否決する方針を決めた。郵政事業を効率化して自立させることをめざす民営化策にとって、株式の売却と上場は根幹であり、否決は当然のことだ。

But this is not the end of the story. Alarmed by the potentially damaging political attack over the issue from the opposition camp, the LDP has started efforts to hold on to the crucial postal vote. It has set up a task force to consider a merger of Japan Post Network Co. and Japan Post Service Co., which operate the nationwide network of post offices and mail services, respectively.

 だが、話はこれで終わらない。揺さぶりを受けた自民も、郵政票の奪回へ動き出した。党内にプロジェクトチームをつくり、郵便局と郵便事業の子会社2社の統合を検討し始めた。

Just as the partisan jockeying for the postal vote was intensifying, Prime Minister Taro Aso fueled the fire by saying the planned sales of Japan Post shares should be frozen. Although Aso's remarks were made in the context of the recent stock market rout, they didn't indicate any serious commitment to postal privatization, which he should be spearheading as chief of the "headquarters" for promoting postal privatization.

 与野党による郵政票の争奪がエスカレートするなか、麻生首相は株式売却について「凍結した方がいい」と発言し、火に油を注いだ。現在の株安を受けての発言ではあったが、郵政民営化推進本部長として自ら民営化を進める責任感が感じられない。

The political confusion over the undertaking started two years ago, when the LDP under the leadership of then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reinstated former party members who were expelled after voting against the bill to privatize Japan Post in 2005.

 こうした民営郵政をめぐる政治の混迷は、自民が2年前に安倍政権下で、民営化への造反議員を復党させたところから始まっている。

After the Upper House rejected the privatization bill due to opposition by the LDP rebels, then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi dissolved the Lower House for a snap election and led the LDP to a resounding victory. The party should remember the huge public support for postal reform.

 05年に小泉・自民党を大勝させた民意とは何だったのか。改革の原点を見つめ直さなければならない。

Part of the blame for the dwindling political momentum for postal privatization lies with the Japan Post management.

 政治のタガが完全に緩んでしまった原因は、郵政の経営にもある。

The powerful postal election machine has been driven by many postmasters using their own properties as post offices. Under the state-run postal system, many of them acted like private business owners.

 郵政票の原動力は旧特定郵便局長だ。国営事業なのに、局長が局舎を私有するなど個人事業主のような存在だった。

Since reform of the system was insufficient, the Japan Post group has been stuck with a dual operational structure, with an independent organization operating within the group. This structure allows postmasters to spend much of their time on political activities instead of business operations.

この改革が中途半端に終わったため、会社の中にもうひとつの結社があるような構造を許した。業務に専心すべき郵便局長が政治活動に力を入れるのを容認する結果となっている。

The Japan Post management has made concessions to influential LDP politicians serving the interests of the postal lobby. This attitude has hampered management reforms for turning Japan Post firms into competitive private-sector players in various areas.

 郵政族の政治力に妥協するような経営姿勢は、そのほかの分野でも、民間会社らしい体制をつくるための改革を滞らせることにつながっている。

いま急ぐべきなのは、改革へ向けて経営の求心力を取り戻すことだ。

Japan Post Holdings postponed its announcement of a new medium-term business plan slated for the end of November, citing the financial crisis. If the move is intended to ride out the political battle over privatization, it is another troubling sign about Japan Post's management.

 日本郵政は、11月末に予定していた中期経営計画の発表を、金融危機を理由に延期した。これも政治の行方を見定めるためだとすれば嘆かわしい。

As the history of the privatization of Japanese National Railways shows, such a radical makeover requires a strong commitment by management.

 旧国鉄の民営化を見ても、改革を成功させるのは経営陣の決意である。

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