Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Japan Post Suspends Air Parcel Shipments to the US - Sort of...

There has been a lot of talk over the last couple of days about Japan Post suspending all Airmail and EMS shipments between Japan and the US that are over 16oz (1lb). Frankly, the press releases made by Japan Post have been somewhat contradictory regarding this, but as of this time the reports coming out of Japan look like this:

The Japan Post Office announced November 12 that from November 17 it would indefinitely stop accepting mail parcels to the United States weighing more than 453 grams. The Post Office has at this time given no indication of how long this suspension will last only saying that it is “for the time being.” This suspension includes all regular international airmail parcels, as well as EMS. The Japan Post Office (JPO) has cut Japan off from the US entirely, at least as far as airmail parcels over a pound in weight go. The reason the JPO gives for this action is that following attempts to send explosives through air cargo from Yemen to the US, American security measures for air cargo have become increasingly severe. America and Guam are included in this provision, raising the strong possibility that Christmas and year end parcels will not be able to be sent from Japan to the US, which is likely to cause massive confusion.

Another reports says this:

The Japan Post Office announced November 12 that from November 17 it would indefinitely stop accepting mail parcels to the United States weighing more than 453 grams. The Post Office has at this time given no indication of how long this suspension will last only saying that it is “for the time being.” This suspension includes all regular international airmail parcels, as well as EMS. The Japan Post Office (JPO) has cut Japan off from the US entirely, at least as far as airmail parcels over a pound in weight go. The reason the JPO gives for this action is that following attempts to send explosives through air cargo from Yemen to the US, American security measures for air cargo have become increasingly severe. America and Guam are included in this provision, raising the strong possibility that Christmas and year end parcels will not be able to be sent from Japan to the US, which is likely to cause massive confusion. According to the Asahi Shinbun, parcels to the US from Japan now account for over 15% of international mail, and approximately 200,000 parcels are sent monthly from Japan to the US. Private consumers will be affected by this ban, however individuals and businesses with JPO commercial accounts will not be affected. As of this writing, no other post services has announced similar measures, and the United States Post Office has not reported plans to limit the weight or shipment of air mail parcels to Japan. At the beginning of November when Greece had several bombs sent through the mail, airmail was stopped in Greece for two days. No other major postal service in the world has ever announced an “indefinite” ban on airmail packages. Since privatization the JPO has been the object of a political tug of war between those who want to entirely or partially end its privatization and those who support continued privatization. The management at top levels of the JPO has drawn censure across the political spectrum, with the problems of the Japan Post’s 'Yu-pack”'deliver system drawing particularly harsh criticism. Foreign users have complained about the proliferation of required documentation for mail and packages to and from foreign countries that did not previously exist and question their necessity. Banning all airmail packages over 453 grams to the US from November 17 will cause wide spread inconvenience and resentment, particularly among smaller business and individuals.

If this is true, and it's hard to believe that it is, the Japanese Postal Service has effectively cut off all small parcel business from Japan to the United states.

And while this will not effect us (as a business we have an import license and use commercial carriers for all of our import shipments), it will most certainly ruin the day of anyone who likes to order character figures or other Japanese goods, or even manga and large DVD or BD shipments directly from Japanese vendors. Japanese vendors will have to use FedEx, DHL, or UPS for small parcel shipments, and that will be quite a bit more expensive. This would also totally screw most of the small US shops that sell Japanese character figures as they tend to import directly from Japanese retail stores in small lots.

This story is still developing, so I'm hoping to have an update later today.

UPDATE: More here.

UPDATE 2: I have now heard from several vendors in Japan who have confirmed that the new restrictions will not effect shipments from Japanese businesses that have commercial mailing accounts, though they all did agree that Airmail and EMS deliveries from Japan will now take longer now that US Customs is going to step up inspections of inbound parcels from Japan.

None of the new rules will effect our business operations or RACS customers.

3 comments:

relentlessflame said...

I've been posting this same correction in a number of places, but per the Press Release this new policy doesn't apply to shippers in Japan who have contracts with the post office, which is to say virtually every business who ships any amount of volume. All the major Japanese exporting retailers contacted so far have confirmed that they are not affected due to this exemption. The main people who will be affected are individuals and small businesses that ship infrequently, since they won't have a business account. In those cases, they'd have to use a commercial carrier instead to ship large packages to the U.S.

The main thing this appears designed to curtail is the "anonymous" shipping of large packages to the U.S.; businesses with accounts are much easier to trace and hold accountable.

Robert said...

I had posted something similar over on the ANN boards this morning. From what it says on the Japan Post site, metered (prepaid account) postage is still OK for mailing, which means even a small business with a stamps.com type account could still post mail over 1lb. Also, I'm sure parcels can still be mailed at the postal counter and meter stripped. They probably just don't want people putting stamps on an overseas parcel and putting it in a letter box. The US has had similar rules for years.

Robert said...

Sure has caused a ruckus though. :-)