News Navigator: Why is Japan seeing slower mail deliveries?

A classic mailbox is seen in this July 2021 file photo. (Mainichi/Takuma Nakamura)

The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about the recent changes to Japan’s post office delivery system, which has experienced delays.

Question: Is it just me or have mail deliveries gotten slower?

Answer: It might be due to Japan Post Co. partially changing its delivery services. Since October 2021, Japan Post has stopped Saturday deliveries of regular mail including letters, postcards and Yu-Mail parcels used for small items such as books, DVDs and magazines. Mail that would have been delivered on Saturdays is now sent out on Mondays.

Q: What other changes has Japan Post made?

A: The time that it takes to deliver regular mail has been extended by a day. In other words, for mail that used to be delivered the day after it was sent, it now takes two days to arrive at its destination, and for mail that used to take two days to arrive it now takes three days. For example, a mail item that was dropped off on a Thursday which used to get delivered the following day now will arrive at the addressee’s doorstep four days later, on Monday, due to the longer delivery time and no deliveries on Saturdays.

Q: That’s inconvenient. Why did they change it?

A: The changes have been made in the context of the popularization of faster means to send out information, such as email and social media. While postal mail is still indispensable for formal occasions in Japan including New Year’s greeting cards and for weddings and promotions, post offices nationwide have been handling a smaller volume of mail each year. Due to staff shortages, in the meantime, it’s become difficult to maintain weekend deliveries and sorting out mail late at night. Japan Post is trying to keep postal services in business while cutting down on the frequency of deliveries and advancing work-style reform.

Q: What should we do if we want to have mail delivered quickly?

A: There have been no changes to services such as express mail, registered mail and Yu-Pack parcels, and these items are still delivered on weekends. In line with the altered regular mail services, Japan Post has reduced its express mail fees by 10%. The express fee for mail that weighs up to 250 grams has been lowered from 290 yen (about $2) to 260 yen.

(Japanese original by Mihoko Kato, Business News Department)


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