Monday, September 12, 2005

One giant leap for Japan

Japan Post, an odd quasi-governmental entity, which is actually the largest financial institution in the world, looks set to be split up and privatized. This has long been a primary goal of Junichiro Koizumi, Japan's prime minister. He faced a heavy impediment when in August, members of his own Liberal Democratic Party broke ranks and opposed his Post privatization bill. In what now seems like a brilliant strategem, the prime minister dissolved the lower house of Parliament and called a special election. On Sunday, the new coalition Koizumi created out of pro-reform LDP members and a Buddhist party, won a landslide victory. This paves the way for the Post, which controls a staggering $3 trillion in financial assets to be pried out of government hands. This election was a turning point for Japan. It could have buckled under the pressure of entrenched political interests. But instead it is striding boldly into the global marketplace. Indeed, after 4 years under Koizumi revised GDP figures show Japan's economy to have grown a thumping 3.3% in the second quarter. While old Europe's rejection of the EU constitution showed it to be in a severe case of future-shock, it looks like Japan has placed itself firmly in the winner's column of the world economy.


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