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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Koizumi sets key reform deadline
By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Tokyo

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi delivers his policy speech at the lower house of the parliament in Tokyo, 26 September 2005.
Mr Koizumi is making the most of momentum generated by the vote
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has told parliament he wants key reforms to privatise the country's post office passed by 1 November.

In a speech to the lower house setting out his priorities for the coming legislative session, he said the bills would be reintroduced immediately.

The rejection of the proposals earlier in the year prompted Mr Koizumi to call a general election to debate the issue.

He won the poll by a landslide, and was formally re-elected last week.

Monday's speech was long on rhetoric but short on detail.

Mr Koizumi is taking advantage of the fact he has just won an election he portrayed as a vote of confidence in his privatisation plans.

In two years' time, Japan's post office will be split into four separate business units under the plans he is resubmitting to parliament.

Postal savings and life insurance will be fully privatised over 10 years.

The people have resurrected the bills which had once died, the prime minister told ministers earlier on Monday.

But later, in his address to parliament, he failed to flesh out in much detail his other plans for economic reform.

He said he would consult with the opposition over plans to change the state pension system to meet the challenges of Japan's rapidly ageing population, and proposals for a shake-up of social security.

But there were no new ideas in this short speech.

On foreign affairs, he signalled plans to extend the logistical support Japan provides to peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, but he said little about how he plans to improve his country's somewhat strained ties with its Asian neighbours, promising only to seek to build what he called "future orientated" friendly relationships.

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