Peterson Institute publications
The Peterson Institute for International Economics is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan
research institution devoted to the study of international economic policy. More › ›
RSS News Feed Search

Policy Brief 12-2

Japan Post: Retreat or Advance?

by Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Peterson Institute for International Economics
and Julia Muir, Peterson Institute for International Economics

January 2012

View full document [pdf]

Legislation to reform Japan Post is again gathering steam in Tokyo. A new postal bill is taking shape, in the form of amendments to the existing Postal Privatization Law dating from the Koizumi era—all put forward under the larger banner of post-earthquake reconstruction finance and the government's efforts to minimize consumption tax hikes. The latest version of "postal reform" legislation envisages "privatization" of Japan Post through the sale of up to two-thirds of government shares, but the government would retain at least one-third, effectively maintaining its controlling position. The real question is whether the latest act in this long-running drama will represent true reform or in fact will camouflage an entrenchment of Japan Post's formidable monopoly powers. Hufbauer and Muir say the new bill is squarely "antireform" and if passed into law would create a major hurdle to Japan's membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Japan Post's operations not only violate the General Agreement on Trade in Services but also are at odds with the drafts on state-owned enterprises now being circulated among the current TPP parties and aspirants. The authors conclude by outlining the elements for a true Japan Post reform bill, one that would represent a step forward rather than a step back.


Op-ed: US Should Support a Trade Deal with Japan July 23, 2013

Peterson Perspective: Market Volatility in Japan: A Verdict on Abenomics? June 7, 2013

Op-ed: Japan Should Rethink Its Stimulus January 15, 2013

Policy Brief 12-12: Japan Post: Anti-Reform Law Clouds Japan's Entry to the Trans-Pacific Partnership May 2012

Op-ed: Will the Crisis Create a New Japan? March 16, 2011

Speech: Seven Broad Lessons for the United States from Japan’s Lost Decade March 26, 2009

Policy Brief 04-6: What Went Right in Japan November 2004

Working Paper 03-9: It Takes More than a Bubble to Become Japan October 2003

Book: Japan's Financial Crisis and Its Parallels to US Experience September 2000