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.