Quote of the Moment
August 8, 2005
I want to do things to you that will put you in counseling for years.
Culture Report of the Moment
My friend Josh lives in Japan with his Japanese wife and writes:
The Japanese Postal System is different than the US one. The Japanese system also serves as a bank. So, it handles letters and packages in addition to providing savings, loans, insurance, and billpaying. Bascially, if one chooses to, almost all of a person's household financial management needs can be accomplished at one locale.This is very convenient. ATMs handle a variety of transactions, or we can go to a teller window.He sent this last week, this morning the BBC was reporting that the Japanese PM dissolved the Parliament and called for new elections that would become a referendum on this issue.
There are no fees for any of the services.
Furthermore, these savings accounts pay the highest savings interest rate in Japan. Thus, many people have such accounts.
But, this system drains money from the government. Actually, the government loses billions of dollars (yen) each year because it subsidizes so many services and pays an excellent interest rate.
So, so politicians, including the Prime Minister want to privatize the system. As can be imagined there is strong opposition to privatization. Equally, there are many proponents to privatize and the parliment is going to hold a vote soon. The Diet will decide and the people will have to go along with their decision.
A lot of political infighting is ongoing and even within the Liberal Democratic Party (the strongest group since the war ended 60 years ago). One politician was caught between factions and was being pressured to choose nationalization or privatization.
Unfortunately, this 40-something politician, was depressed and could not handle the pressure put onto him by his colleagues. Rather than choose between competing colleagues, he did what has historically been an acceptable solution to his dilemna, he commited suicide.
Over the Postal System.
Sometimes Japan seems really foreign to me.
The BBC talked with a Japanese financial expert. I guess they think that a total privatization would be good for the economy there. At first I thought it would be bad for a person who was using it for its savings, but then again, Japan seems to be "savings happy" relative to the USA. (Then again, a rockstar on a drunken, heroin-laden spending spree can seem "savings happy" relative to the USA.)
UPDATE: Slate on the Japanese Postal Savings System.