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2009年2月 1日 (日)

かんぽの宿 「入札」経緯をすべて公開せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 1, 2009)

Japan Post must explain reason for asset fire-sale

かんぽの宿 「入札」経緯をすべて公開せよ(21日付・読売社説)

When disposing of valuable national assets, there should never be a rush to sell if unresolved questions remain. Japan Post Holdings Co. should, therefore, clearly and convincingly explain why it planned to press ahead with a controversial sale of properties.


The issue involves Japan Post's decision to sell as a batch most of its Kampo no Yado inns and its nine housing facilities for employees across the country to an Orix Corp. group company. The planned sale drew strong objection from Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kunio Hatoyama.


In October 2007, when the then Japan Post was privatized creating the Japan Post Group, the firm decided to either close or sell off its Kampo no Yado inns within five years because the businesses, which it had inherited from Japan Post, had posted hefty combined annual losses of about 5 billion yen.


Last year, Japan Post decided that selling the Kampo no Yado inns and the housing facilities was the best option, and it valued them at about 9.3 billion yen.


Japan Post then put them out to tender, but many companies withdrew their bids amid the deteriorating economy. Eventually, it was decided in December that they would be sold to Orix Real Estate Corp. for about 10.9 billion yen.



Price tag too cheap

Hatoyama, who oversees Japan Post, called a stop to the planned sale. Many of his reasons for doing so are convincing.


First, Hatoyama pointed out the price is too cheap. It cost about 240 billion yen to buy the land and construct the facilities, which were offered for sale. They include a profitable facility in Saitama that cost as much as 30 billion yen to build and attracts more than 50,000 guests a year.


Some housing facilities for employees, which are situated on large plots of land, could be sold for a substantial price if they were redeveloped as condominium sites.


Despite these points, could the price tag of 10.9 billion yen still be considered reasonable? Obviously, Hatoyama is not the only one who would like a full explanation about how this figure was reached.



A fixed race?

Hatoyama said that instead of grouping the properties together for sale, selling them separately after taking into consideration regional disparities would have resulted in a higher price tag and also would help revitalize regional communities.


He also noted that because Orix Chairman Yoshihiko Miyauchi was involved in discussions regarding postal privatization, people might suspect that the proposed sale of facilities to Orix was the result of a "fixed race." He said the process of selecting a purchaser appeared shady, and called for full disclosure of information pertaining to the bidding.


Japan Post Holdings President Yoshifumi Nishikawa, who had previously said there were no problems with its procedures regarding the planned sale, said at a press conference Thursday the company would temporarily freeze the bundled sale.


Nishikawa added that Japan Post would shortly set up an expert third-party committee, which will include lawyers, certified public accountants and real estate appraisers, to examine the appropriateness of the asset evaluation and review the bidding process.


The announced measures are appropriate. More than three years remain before the assets have to be disposed of, so Japan Post can afford to wait for the third-party committee to hold in-depth discussions on the matter and reach a conclusion before it decides how to move ahead.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 1, 2009)

2009210136  読売新聞)


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