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Japan Post to give up Saturday mail delivery

The inexorable decline of mail delivery pushed the Japanese Post to give up some of its prerogatives. Voted Friday, November 27, an amendment to the legislation surrounding this activity ends distribution on Saturdays and increases the maximum delivery time to four days, against three previously.

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The decision sanctions the steady decline in the use of mail. During the fiscal year ended at the end of March 2020, Japan Post (JP) distributed 16.3 billion letters. Five years earlier, its letter carriers, known for their red mopeds, had donated 18.6 billion. The Covid-19 pandemic saw activity decline 7.7% between April and September, compared to the same period in 2019. This decline is accompanied by a recruitment problem in a country facing a significant shortage of labor, and its corollary rising personnel costs.

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At a time marked by the widespread use of electronic mail, “It is unlikely that the change in services will significantly harm the interests of users”, said the Ministry of Public Management, responsible for this activity subject to an obligation of universal service, including in rural areas, on remote islands and in mountainous regions.

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The ministry also bowed to pressure from a struggling company. Since the privatization of the Japanese Post in 2007, JP is one of the subsidiaries of Japan Post Holdings which has two others, one in charge of banking activities and another active in insurance, which are struggling to remain profitable. The group announced in March the loss of 10,000 jobs.

On New Year’s Day, a public holiday, the archipelago experiences a veritable ballet of postmen who make two or even three tours until late at night.

To rectify its accounts, JP now wants to develop parcel distribution, an activity still marginal for it, but up by 21% between April and September thanks to the development of online commerce. It is also counting on the voted amendment which, according to its calculations, should save it 62.5 billion yen (502 million euros) per year, thanks in part to the reduction of night services allowing the distribution of a letter the day after it is sent, if the addressee lives in the same department as the sender or in a neighboring department.

JP should also maintain the exception surrounding New Year’s greeting cards. A true institution in Japan, these cards featuring the motif of the animal of the coming year according to the Chinese calendar, must imperatively be distributed on 1er January, under penalty of a scandal widely reported by the media. That day, a public holiday, the archipelago saw a veritable ballet of letter carriers who made two or even three rounds until late at night, even if, there too, the number of cards was decreasing. For the New Year of 2021, the year of the ox, JP has put up for sale 1.94 billion, 17% less than a year ago, for the year of the rat.

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