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Learning English - Words in the News
14 October, 2005 - Published 14:42 GMT
Japan's postal reforms
Japan's Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi

The Japanese parliament has agreed to the privatisation of the country's postal system -- a key step in government plans for streamlining one of the world's biggest economies. This report from Andrew Walker:

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The Japanese postal service is a vast public sector empire. It has a quarter of a million full-time employees. And apart from delivering the mail, it is by one measure the world's largest financial institution - managing over three trillion dollars worth of Japanese private savings. Privatisation of this service is symbolic of the wider reforms of the Japanese economy that the Prime Minster Junichiro Koizumi wants to pursue.

Privatisation would encourage more commercial use of the resources in the savings bank and provide a source of funds for business wanting to expand. Critics say the money is currently often used by government bodies for uneconomic construction projects. Opponents of privatisation fear that it will lead to job losses and a decline in services in rural areas.

Andrew Walker, BBC, Economics Correspondent

Listen to the words

huge, very big

public sector
controlled and operated by the government, not a private company

The process of letting private companies take control over previously public companies

symbolic of the wider reforms
a sign of the changes in different areas

to pursue
to implement, to put into practice

a source of funds
a way of getting money

government bodies
governement organisations

People who are against something, who don't want it

a decline in services
a situation when the quality of services gets worse

rural areas
areas in the countryside, not cities or big towns

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