A poll by Kyodo News in Japan has revealed that 47.3% of adults openly support the incumbent prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, and 51.6% support his proposed privatization of the country's postal system. Japan Post is at present the country's largest employer, and the world’s largest savings bank with an estimated $3.1 trillion in funds and insurance policies.

By the end of last year Koizumi had formalized a policy to divide Japan’s state-operated Japan Post into four separate entities; postal savings, postal life insurance, mail delivery and post office management. If the policy were to gain approval, it is thought the process of dividing the institution would take at least a decade. The prime minister believes that private companies, rather than state officials, should manage Japan Post.

Following a rejection of the plans by the Japanese House of Councilors on August 8 this year, Mr Koizumi dissolved the lower house and called a general election for September, saying of the privatization, I’d like to ask the Japanese people whether there really is no need for it.

Some political observers have suggested that Mr Koizumi’s popularity among the electorate has grown due to the strength of the Japanese economy and stock market growth, and has little to do with his plans to privatize the nation’s leading postal and banking institution.

Japan’s Topix index rose as much as 0.4% on Monday to 1,246.15 in Tokyo after experiencing its best week since August 2003.