Japan's ruling party has approved a package of bills to privatize the country's postal service

Approval by the Cabinet is needed before the plan can move to a special session of parliament that opened this week, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party official said.

The LDP's coalition partner, the New Komei Party, was also meeting on the bills Thursday.

The LDP official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with party rules, said a special party committee voted for the measures, and then the party leadership approved them.

He said he did not know when the Cabinet would consider the package, but Kyodo News agency said Cabinet approval would come next Tuesday, according to the AP.

A vote in parliament is expected sometime in mid-October.

Privatization of the postal service is the centerpiece of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's reformist agenda, which received a resounding mandate in parliamentary elections Sept. 11.

The plan calls for Japan Post's delivery, insurance and savings deposit services to be split up and sold off by 2017, putting its 330 trillion yen (US$3 trillion) in holdings in private hands.

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