Good Service from Good Competition

We have received more than 3,400 responses and opinions to our opinion advertisement placed on November 12, 2015 as well as on our website. Thank you for your cooperation.

After more than half a year since we launched the website, we still receive opinions and inquiries from our customers. We will continue to give explanations on our view so as to respond to comments and inquiries received from our customers.

We have also received quite a few candid advice and demand for improvement in our services. We presented and shared case studies where our customers found our services unsatisfactory, and are taking initiatives to improve our services.

This time, we have updated the content and items of the following sections: “Comments on the opinion advertisement”, “Comments on Express Mail Service (EMS),” and “Other comments.” We also newly created the “Comments on our services” section.

1.Comments on universal postal service

Our Customers' Voice

If the postal service was privatized despite being inherently unprofitable, throwing it into a competitive system will immediately cause universal service to collapse.

Japan Post should obviously enjoy preferential treatment because it is obligated to provide universal service.

From a social standpoint, I cannot agree with the argument that all postal business should be deregulated. Deregulating everything would cause the postcard/letter business to disappear.

Remote areas only have the post office. I think ordinary companies would pull out because they are unprofitable.

Our Response

Before we respond to our customers' comments and inquiries, we would like to give you our basic opinion regarding universal service.

We are not arguing for the complete elimination of preferential treatment for universal service. The postal service is an essential universal service for the life of citizens and we have no objection to the necessary minimum preferential treatment.

However, some services within the postal service are in practice being recommended for sending packages, and we do not believe that there has been enough debate around whether the current scope of universal service is in fact essential to the life of citizens. We think that the preferential treatment of the postal service should only apply to the delivery of correspondence.

We also believe and have made the case that liberalizing part of the social infrastructure that is the postbox and post office network for the private sector could quite possibly increase usage and, in the same way as, for example, collecting telephone connection fees, stabilize and maintain universal postal service, but the fact is that this is not even being debated.

Our claim is that preserving this preferential treatment without adequately debating the scope of universal service or how to maintain it is liable to increase the taxpayer burden as its interpretation expands, invite obstruction of fair and equal competitive conditions in sectors outside of universal services and ultimately decrease convenience for the people.

Our Customers' Voice

It is natural to continue the preferential treatment because Japan Post is tasked with the vital business of delivering correspondence.

No matter how profitable the postal business is, when you look at the size, the profits are negligible. Removing the preferential treatment because of a tiny profit would quickly push Japan Post into the red.

The postal service delivers Yu-Mail and other non-correspondence items to unprofitable areas far and wide without partiality. It should obviously enjoy preferential treatment.

Article 701-34 of the Local Tax Act applies to home delivery companies as well, so isn't Yamato Transport also benefiting from tax exemption?

Our Response

As we mentioned in 1-1 above, we agree that postal work is an essential universal service and if maintaining universal service is difficult, we have no objection to necessary preferential treatment being given based on a clearly-defined scope. However, we think that because taxpayers bear the cost of maintaining universal services, Japan Post should be obliged to disclose their income and expenditure reports, specifically define the services they find difficult to continue as is,

As a home delivery company, we receive the same preferential treatment that all home delivery companies receive.

Japan Post, however, is engaged in the delivery of both post and package. It receives preferential treatment without clearly distinguishing, even in accounting, what applies to maintaining universal service and what applies to being a package delivery company, and we believe this ambiguity is liable to increase the taxpayer burden, invite obstruction of fair and equal competitive conditions in sectors outside of universal services and ultimately decrease convenience for people.

Our Customers' Voice

The idea that Yamato, which charges outlying island fees and separate fees for Hokkaido and Okinawa, is a fair and equal competitor is ridiculous.

Japan Post charges the same rate for outlying islands despite making a loss on them. Can you also charge a flat rate?

Your company prioritizes profitable areas and corporate discounts while charging customers in rural areas higher rates. What about that?

Yamato entrusts work in marginal villages and other remote areas to Japan Post, doesn't it? And don't you give preferential treatment to city centers, etc. rather than offer a flat fee?

Our Response

Kuroneko Mail-Bin charges flat rates across the country regardless of distance, including outlying islands.

Our new mailing services, Neko Post and Kuroneko DM-Bin, also currently charge flat nationwide rates.

TA-Q-BIN does use a zone-based fee system but does not charge an outlying island fee. Furthermore, we deliver to outlying islands and remote areas using our own network, we do not hire Japan Post for these deliveries.

As with our TA-Q-BIN service, it is natural for any network to have both profitable and unprofitable regions. But every company works hard to make every area profitable and maintain the infrastructure and customer service in each. We think that based on the premise that maintaining universal service also involves having both profitable and unprofitable regions, the delivery of correspondence should only receive preferential treatment if it is in the red overall.

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2.Comments on “correspondence”

Our Customers' Voice

Please get into the general correspondence business, it seems like you could under the current conditions.

Why don't you roll out 100,000 postboxes like Japan Post and enter the correspondence business?

Kuroneko should start handling correspondence instead of villainizing Japan Post. Stop trying to bend the law rather than put in the effort like setting up postboxes across the country.

If you have a network across the entire country then please, apply to MIC, and get into the business.

Yamato should start providing universal service!

Our Response

We have approximately 230,000 drop-off points across the country. However, we would need to install an additional 100,000 postboxes or so to get into the general correspondence business.

As we said in 1-1 above, we believe and have made the case that liberalizing part of the social infrastructure that is the postbox and post office network for the private sector would ensure fair and equal competitive conditions and, in the same way as, for example, collecting telephone connection fees, could quite possibly stabilize and maintain universal postal service. Each company setting up its own postboxes along the road is unlikely to truly increase convenience for people. However, the fact is that this is not yet even being debated.

Furthermore, even if a private company were to become a general correspondence company, under the current laws, it would not be conferred the preferential treatment that Japan Post enjoys. In other words, the general correspondence market does not have fair and equal competitive conditions.

Under the current system we cannot enter the general correspondence business.

Our Customers' Voice

Even after looking up the definition of “correspondence” I was still confused and would always wonder, “Is this okay? Is this not okay?”

It was really inconvenient when I wanted to send a book and a letter to a friend but couldn't send it as Mail-Bin because the letter was “correspondence.”

I agree with introducing exterior standards on correspondence. Abolish this convoluted system and replace it with one that is easy to understand.

Will we be penalized because the parcels sent to me by my grandparents contain messages or other notes that would be classed as correspondence?

I tried to check the definition of “correspondence” on MIC's website but still couldn't tell if my letter of congratulations and personal update that I included in a birthday present to my friend counted as “correspondence.”

Our Response

It appears that a number of people became interested in the “correspondence” system through our opinion advertisement. The very real problem with the regulations is that despite it being difficult to tell what is classified as correspondence and what is not, both the sender and the delivery company are penalized if correspondence is sent in any way other than post.

The system is extremely ambiguous in practice, with the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication saying to the National Diet that correspondence can be included in parcels as “accompanying notes” while other ministry personnel say that it cannot, and ministry decisions changing depending on the times and personnel. MIC is trying to raise people's awareness but the current ambiguity of the notion of correspondence is not something that can be solved by awareness-raising activities alone.

We have repeatedly argued that the system should be revised so that

  • ・anyone can determine if something is correspondence or not; and
  • ・only the delivery company is penalized if correspondence is sent in any way other than post;

and have proposed exterior standards (based not on the contents of the letter but the size of the envelope), but the fact is that this is not being adequately debated.

We will continue to take every opportunity to raise this correspondence regulations problem.

We have received many inquiries, like those above about sending a letter with a book, messages and other notes or a letter of congratulations and personal update, and these are classed as “accompanying notes” included in parcels so there is no need to worry. Accompanying notes are simple salutatory messages directly related to the parcel and have always been allowed (Guidelines on Correspondence [MIC notice no. 270, 2003]).

The Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication said to the Upper House's Budget Committee on March 27, 2015, that messages such as “How are you doing?” and “Come visit sometime” count as accompanying notes.

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3.omments on the opinion advertisement

Our Customers' Voice

I don't think it's good for the top company in the transport industry to put out something criticizing another company.

I think it's very intolerant of you to take out a full-page advertorial even in local newspapers to criticize another company, especially one with a smaller market share than you.

My impression of Yamato Transport is that it's waging a negative campaign on the post office. I feel like you should take your opinions elsewhere.

I cannot approve of calling out a company by name to criticize it.

Our Response

In our opinion advertisement we attempted to once again raise the question and make the case that

While we agree that the postal service is an essential universal service, preferential treatment without distinguishing it from the home delivery business is liable to obstruct fair and equal competitive conditions in the industry and oppose the trend of deregulation

The system should be revised so that postal business and home delivery business accounting is thoroughly separated, the scope of postal work and services necessary to maintain universal service is clearly shown and preferential treatment is only given when these become difficult to maintain

Correspondence regulations penalizing both the sender and delivery company for sending correspondence in any way other than post despite it being ambiguous what is considered correspondence and what is not

We believe that based on this, fair competition of ideas and self-refinement outside of the scope necessary to maintain universal service will produce products and services that increase convenience for customers.

Rather than criticizing Japan Post, we are calling into question the current system.

Our Customers' Voice

I look forward to seeing Yamato Transport accept this as a refining hardship and work to improve service rather than criticize other companies.

I don't feel any intent on the part of Yamato to fight back with better service, only criticism of Japan Post.

It would be better for your bottom line if you spent all this money on improving your service rather than taking out these ads.

I see only the ego of the industry's top player. You want to expand your share even further to have it all. Please return to the “one step forward” service of the Yamato of the past.

Rather than going it alone, you should partner with other companies and continue to make requests of the government.

Our Response

We received a large number of opinions critical of our services, but we are grateful.

We listen to every piece of comment we receive in order to improve the quality of our services to satisfy our customers.

Furthermore, as we work to improve our own services, we will step up our efforts to discuss with competitors and industry organizations how to realize fair and equal competitive conditions in the parcel business and create products and services that increase convenience for customers based on that.

Our Customers' Voice

I think that it is appropriate to incorporate fair opinions of third-party expert groups.

I wish for continuous opinion-making, going beyond individual corporate frameworks and including legal experts.

Our Response

We have been exchanging opinions with others in the same trade, industry groups, learned individuals and law experts in order to realize “impartial and fair competitive conditions” as the foundation “to create highly convenient services for our customers.”

We will continue to make efforts to realize “impartial and fair competitive conditions” through active exchange of opinions with third parties for stimulation of economic activity by incorporating objective comments to our corporate philosophy.

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4.Comments on Kuroneko Mail-Bin

Our Customers' Voice

[All this] despite the fact you wanted to get rid of troublesome private mail customers.

I think everyone feels like this is the performance of a company that has reached the limits of the mail business, just like when it discontinued Yamato Mail-Bin. It just got rid of a low-priced, unprofitable business.

You talk about the law this, that law that, but didn't you just quit it because you couldn't turn a profit on items sent personally from convenience stores?

Our Response

Kuroneko Mail-Bin was heavily used since its launch in 1997 and reached a volume of 2.1 billion items and sales of 120 billion yen in 2014 – a valuable and profitable business.

However, from 2009 onward, there were instances of customers being questioned by the police and having charges filed on suspicion of infringing upon postal law by sending correspondence by Kuroneko Mail-Bin.

Therefore in 2011 we began to warn customers and get them to sign to verify that they were not sending correspondence, and also made the case that the system should be changed so that even if correspondence was sent, only the delivery company would be penalized, but even after that the number of cases of charges being filed rose to eight.

We decided that under the existing system, in order to not risk customers continuing to unknowingly break the law by sending correspondence via Kuroneko Mail-Bin, we would reflect our precious customer-first policy and social responsibility and discontinue the service.

It was certainly not discontinued because it was unprofitable.

Our Customers' Voice

I'd be very happy to see the correspondence system become simpler and easier to understand and a convenient system like Mail-Bin return.

I doubt anything will change very quickly as a result of this opinion advertisement but I hope that Mail-Bin will someday be revived.

I'm waiting for the day these regulations are abolished and Mail-Bin returns.

Our Response

We are deeply grateful to all customers who used Kuroneko Mail-Bin and those hoping for its return. However, we cannot accept the risk of customers inadvertently committing a crime.

If the government warranties that

  • ・anyone can determine if something is correspondence or not; and
  • ・only the delivery company is penalized if correspondence is sent in any way other than post;

and a system is developed that customers can use without worry, we would like to offer a new service to replace Kuroneko Mail-Bin that is suited to the times and needs.

We will continue to take every opportunity to raise this correspondence regulations problem.

To that end we will continue to take every opportunity to raise this correspondence regulations problem.

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5.Comments on universal postal service in other countries

Our Customers' Voice

I wonder what preferential treatment the postal services in other countries receive.

I think that preferential treatment should be made fair following privatization. Are there any international rules about this?

Our Response

Other countries employ a variety of systems and preferential measures to maintain the essential universal postal service, but the biggest difference is that the extent of the monopoly is either clear with objective standards or unclear with content standards.

For example, the U.S. has stipulated objective standards based on cost and weight so that anyone can tell what falls within the extent of the monopoly and therefore preferential treatment.
Furthermore, penalties are only levied on the delivery company, not the sender. This arrangement makes it possible to protect consumers, ensure an environment of fair and equal competition among delivery companies outside of the monopoly and promote creation of new services that improve convenience and are easy to understand.

Germany and the UK, on the other hand, have already abolished the monopolies.

In contrast, Japan bases the extent of its monopoly on “delivery of correspondence,” using content standards that stipulate what is and is not a correspondence based on the content of the message. Beyond that, the system penalizes not only the delivery company but also the sender for infractions.

Therefore, our thinking is that:

  • ・The system should be changed from correspondence stipulations based on content standards to objective standards, exterior standards, that anybody can understand, and penalization only of the delivery company if written is sent in any way other than post;
  • ・Having clarified the extent of the monopoly of universal service, a necessary minimum preferential treatment should be considered;
  • ・Outside of the scope of universal service, the creation of new services through fair and equal competition of rival companies' ideas that increase convenience for people should be promoted.

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6.Comments on ambiguity in the definition of correspondence

Our Customers' Voice

It's hard for a layman to know if something is or isn't correspondence, making it likely to be sent incorrectly by mistake.

I've gotten used to looking up whether something is correspondence or not because of my job, but it's really hard to know. I'd like clearer standards.

I want a new framework based on thorough research into how customers want to send correspondence such as resumés and contracts and what the ideal method would be.

Our Response

As we said in 5 above, the fundamental problem lies in Japan's basing the extent of the monopoly on “delivery of correspondence,” using content standards – the content of the message – to decide what is classed as correspondence.

MIC has been working to raise awareness of its Guidelines on Correspondence since 2003 but as the chart below shows, the fact that items with the same content may be classed differently makes the notion of correspondence extremely complicated and not something that can be solved by awareness-raising activities alone.

This is made clear by the large number of voices still saying that it is difficult to tell if something is classified as correspondence or not after ten years of awareness-raising activities.

We have repeatedly argued that the system should be revised so that

  • ・anyone can determine if something is correspondence or not; and
  • ・only the delivery company is penalized if correspondence is sent in any way other than post;

and in 2013, we submitted a proposal to the postal policy group of MIC's Information and Communications Council to introduce exterior standards based on size. However, this proposal was not even discussed.

We believe that serious debate on what the most appropriate objective standards are for Japan is of vital importance to make the system easy for people to understand and protect them from breaking the law.

Our Customers' Voice

I think a lot of people include letters when they send package to their friends and family, but is this against the law as well?

Every day at my e-commerce company I send parcels and include receipts, statements of delivery, invoices and other documentation to address client requests or explain payment methods, things that would fall under “documents including expressions clearly showing that they are dispatched to a certain receiver.” Does this count as correspondence too?

When I sell old books to traders, I include a copy of my driver's license or other form of identification and purchasing form with my bank and account information for payment, but is this classified as correspondence as well?

Our Response

Even if letters classed as correspondence are enclosed with a package, if they count as “accompanying notes,” they are not against the law.

Documents like invoices, statements of delivery and warranties that e-commerce companies attach to goods ordered by customers, or the necessary documents when selling old books, all count as accompanying notes.

However, the following instances are against the law as they do not fall under accompanying notes.

  • ・Sending letters, invoices, statements of delivery, etc. separate from the parcel;
  • ・Including invoices, statements of delivery, etc. for items other than those in the parcel (for example, including an annual subscription invoice for a regular magazine subscription with the final issue).
  • ・Putting the included letters, invoices, statements of delivery, etc. in envelopes.

Accompanying notes are simple messages that catalogue or explain the package contents or their usage or that are directly related to the parcel and have always been allowed (Guidelines on Correspondence [MIC notice no. 270, 2003]). Furthermore, the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication said to the Upper House's Budget Committee on March 27, 2015, that messages saying things like, “How are you doing?” or “Come visit sometime!” count as accompanying notes.

With that said, why is it that accompanying notes become correspondence if they are enclosed in an envelope? What does this law protect? Are we the only ones struggling to understand this?

Our Customers' Voice

I'm embarrassed to admit that I'd never heard of this “correspondence” thing. Someone I hired for a small job sent me the invoice by Yu-Mail, but this is clearly an infraction, isn't it?

Our Response

Yu-Mail is a package delivery service just like an express delivery service or Mail-Bin and cannot be used to send correspondence. However, many customers appear to be mistaking it for a correspondence service because

  • ・It is a service provided by Japan Post;
  • ・Envelopes often resemble “post”;
  • ・No special warning is given upon collection

Through questionnaires and usage surveys on Mail-Bin, we discovered much confusion concerning Yu-Mail and correspondence getting mixed in.

The fact is that this risks causing people to unknowingly break the law because of an insignificant error or lack of knowledge or understanding regarding “correspondence.”

One of the biggest reasons we chose to discontinue Kuroneko Mail-Bin was that we could not continue to offer it knowing of the risk to so many customers. We would never complain about customers using Yu-Mail to send correspondence, but we do think there is urgent need for debate around developing a system that customers can use with confidence.

Click here for more information about the discontinuation of Kuroneko Mail-Bin (Japanease only).

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7.Comments on Express Mail Service (EMS)

Our Customers' Voice

I found out that EMS largely gets a free pass on customs clearance and has a very different process than private delivery services.

Is quarantined cargo taken directly from the airport to the international post branch, transported from the airport before inspection?

Postal work is becoming increasingly global, so if the government doesn't take steps to develop fair and equal market conditions, other countries will start pointing out problems.

I seem to recall foreign logistics companies complaining that there was no basis for preferential treatment in international law.

Our Response

Express Mail Service (EMS) is a speedy international delivery service offered by the postal services of each Universal Postal Union member country for letters and other postal items, but actually in addition to letters, many parcels are delivered using EMS.

Furthermore, in the realm of international parcel delivery services, despite EMS being in competition with private companies inside and outside of Japan, it is treated as universal service here. This is why there are huge differences between the customs clearance and quarantine processes of EMS and private international parcel delivery companies.

Self-assessment system for private companies:
Customers must declare goods names, quantities and tariffs, undergo inspection and obtain permission (Customs Act Article 67).

Official assessment method for EMS:
On the other hand, because Article 67 of the Customs Act does not apply to EMS goods worth 200,000 yen or less, declaration is unnecessary, as is inspection unless required by a customs official (Customs Act Article 76). Customs officials carry out the customs clearance procedures by inspecting documents to see if import/export is possible and looking for taxable or prohibited goods, so appropriate tariffs are not always applied.

In addition to the differences between these two systems, while private companies must undergo quarantine at the airport, EMS may undergo it at the post office outside of the airport.

The media has drawn attention to certain cases of illegal items such as counterfeit goods or ingredients for dangerous drugs being imported or exported using the official assessment method of EMS.

Furthermore, Japan Post's Cool EMS expands the scope to include transport of frozen or refrigerated goods. The only countries to class cool transport via EMS as a universal service are Japan (destinations include Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and France) and Taiwan (refrigerated goods bound for Japan).

Other countries have begun to point out that these differences between customs clearance and quarantine processes for EMS and private delivery services are an obstruction to the fair and equal competition condition of participation in the TPP. Other voices have also argued that import/export cargo leaving the airport before undergoing quarantine inspection calls into question food safety.

Fair and equal competitive conditions in delivery services provided by private companies in Japan and abroad are a key issue across international society as globalization intensifies. We will work with overseas companies to continue to call attention to this problem.

Our Customers' Voice

I feel that diagram 7-1 illustrating “the official assessment method” gives an impression that packages sent through a post office does not go through customs.

It talks about simplified customs clearance. However, one of my acquaintances had packages sent abroad through a post office returned from the customs by reason of having an item that cannot be sent out.

In regards to the “preferential treatment for customs clearance of international mail,” it is not right to regard it unfair by the principle of market competition as it is an obligation under the international convention.

Our Response

Thank you for your valuable feedback.

Unlike in the case of private businesses, the official assessment method is applied (instead of the self-assessment method) for customs clearance for any Express Mail Service (EMS) package containing items with a total value of 200,000-yen or less. The official assessment method is not about totally skipping the inspection process. Customs officials will review the paperwork to confirm that contents of each package are not restricted or prohibited items for export/import. Therefore, as you have pointed out, a parcel may be returned if it was found to include a restricted or prohibited item. Diagram 7-1 above illustrates the fact that, unlike the self-assessment method applied to private businesses, the official assessment method does not require the importer/exporter to declare to the customs to gain clearance.

However, as we have commented, EMS recently is not limited to letters and postcards, but is expanding to include cross-border mail orders, and with Cool EMS to transport fresh food, many different kinds of items are now being delivered.

EMS is in a competitive position against private businesses in Japan and abroad in the area of small cargo delivery services. Nevertheless, it is being uniformly treated as a universal service, and customs clearance and quarantine systems being applied differ from those applied to private businesses. These differences place them in a position of superiority over private businesses both in terms of operation and costs.

Having two different systems for the same international small cargo delivery services not only contradicts the international “impartial and fair competitive conditions” for cargo delivery services, but also increases the risk of allowing the export/import of prohibited items, dangerous drugs, and counterfeit goods through the use of EMS. This is what the international society and domestic private businesses, and industry groups see as a problem.

With the expansion of EPA*1 and TPP*2 coming into effect, and also the increasing export of farm and marine products from Japan, in order to improve the competitiveness of the Japanese brands, there is a need to unify the customs and quarantine systems as being illustrated in diagram 7-1, to establish one safe and transparent system to be accepted internationally. This is also true in view of preventing a decrease in credibility of Japan. On top of that, impartial and fair competition between private businesses in Japan and abroad should be promoted so as to enhance the convenience of international small cargo delivery services and aim to allow safe deliveries into and out of the country.

We also believe that convenience for customers should not be compromised due to increase in the quantity of imported and exported cargo. This can be promoted, for example, by creating a common platform to save manpower and labor through the use of digital and automated inspection methods, and also by establishing an appropriate and efficient inspection system. Public-private cooperation is required of such task.

*1 EPA is an acronym for Economic Partnership Agreement. Economic Partnership Agreements are intensive alliances, signed by two or more countries that provide for reciprocal economic integration and participation. This is not only about elimination of tariffs, but also promoting strengthening of cooperation in the economic domain, such as in services, investments, and electronic commerce.

*2 TPP is an acronym for Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement. It is a diverse economic partnership agreement between Pacific Rim countries (including South Korea, Singapore, and Japan) with an aim for economic liberalization among the countries.

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8.Other comments

Our Customers' Voice

Would Yamato participate if multiple companies decided to use one company to deliver all of their package in certain areas?

Public transportation sometimes offers joint operation or shares facilities. I think logistics companies could provide more precise service if those that met certain standards took on the work of Japan Post.

You talk about “liberalizing part of the social infrastructure that is the postbox and post office network for the private sector” but are you prepared to let the post office use your branches and distribution network?

Our Response

Thank you for all of your excellent suggestions.

In addition to social issues such as the low birthrate, aging society and depopulation, the logistics industry also faces a number of issues such as a shortage of drivers and sudden increase in redeliveries. In response, we've begun a variety of initiatives including network-sharing and multi-company partnerships.

In office buildings and some large-scale residential buildings, multiple delivery companies are already cooperating to offer efficient joint delivery to the tenants and customers.

As for Yamato, we want to install delivery lockers open to joint use by other delivery companies, and are in the midst of actively seeking their participation.
In order to increase convenience for customers, we plan to accelerate delivery network-sharing and other service-enhancing initiatives.

Our Customers' Voice

Postal codes are required on parcels and mail, but do you pay a usage fee or something to the post office?

I don't think you should be criticizing the postal service when you use postal codes for sorting.

Our Response

Use of postal codes is not limited by law. Furthermore, because Japan Post, which sets postal codes, does not limit their use by the people in any way, we also make free use of them.

Our Customers' Voice

The other day, Japan Post announced the change in the rate of discount in regards to domestic mail. It was an unexpected blow for us. I do not think it is right that Japan Post monopolizing and to raise their prices.

Japan Post's raise in their prices gives impact to companies who use bulk mail services. As we cannot simply put these letters in the postbox, they should allow us to use Yamato without setting restrictions such as to set at least 100 thousand postboxes to handle “correspondence”. I think that would introduce the principle of competition for fair prices.

Our Response

Japan Post has been raising the postage repeatedly. However, ever since we started the Kuroneko Mail-bin service in 1997, they held the prices unchanged for many years. Now, following the discontinuance of the Kuroneko Mail-bin service in 2015, Japan Post, for the first time in 22 years since 1994, announced the raise in postage. And as of June 1, 2016, they lowered their basic discount rate for some of the domestic mail, and raised the EMS prices by 300-yen to 500-yen.

We do not have any objection for a business to raise prices of their services according to their business conditions. However, we feel that Japan Post owe explanations to the people on why they are raising the prices while they are not only receiving preferential treatment as the provider of universal service essential in people's lives, but also, when they are making profit.

Preferential treatments are applied to universal services because such services are indispensable to the people. Therefore, if they were to raise the prices, they should be obliged to disclose their income and expenditure reports, specifically define the reason, in the case of, why they find it difficult to continue the service, and explain the reasons for the price raise to the people.

Once again, in the area of international small cargo delivery services, EMS is placed in a position of superiority over private businesses in Japan and abroad who are providing similar services. Nevertheless, preferential customs clearance and quarantine systems are being applied to EMS expanding by 130% in 2014 and 137% in 2015 with inclusion of cross-border mail order parcels and Cool EMS to transport fresh food. Why do they continue to receive preferential treatment as the provider of universal service while their services hardly differ from services provided by private businesses? And why do they need to raise their prices now?

Our Customers' Voice

Would Yamato Transport consider joining hands with Japan Post for certain services?

Are you collaborating with other companies in the same business?

Going forward, I recommend taking into consideration collaborations with other private businesses, and not only placing opinion ads like this.

Our Response

Thank you for your suggestions.

As we have mentioned in 8-1, we have started collaborating with multiple companies to enable us to provide convenient services to our customers.

For example, in Tama New Town (a large residential development), we have launched a new service on April 27, 2016, in collaboration with Japan Post and Sagawa Express. Different package delivered separately by different delivery companies are now delivered by Yamato Transport in a lump.

Also, on May 11, 2016, we announced the establishment of Parkcity Japan, a joint venture with Neopost based in France, to operate an open network of secure automated parcel lockers for the delivery of parcels for customers who wish to have parcels delivered to locations other than their home and also to solve the issue of redelivery.

In order to enable our customers to use our parcel delivery services more conveniently, we consider an establishment of a common platform to be shared by multiple delivery service providers based on collaborative relations important.

Nevertheless, we are not able to handle Letter Pack and Smart Letter services provided by Japan Post. These are services to deliver both “correspondence” and “package”, and we cannot be the deliverer of these services even if they are “package.” Therefore, these are excluded from the lump delivery service. And where the size of a Letter Pack or Smart Letter is not small enough to fit into a mailbox and the addressee is absent from home, Japan Post need to bring them back for redelivery.

Therefore, even if we were asked to “re-deliver the Letter Pack and the home delivery parcel as we are home now,” we cannot deliver what is handled by Japan Post.
Based on impartial and fair conditions, we wonder whether Japan Post shares our concept of lump delivery to improve convenience of home delivery services for our customers.

News releases (in Japanese only)

Launch of support services based on the Tama New Town community

Launch of an open parcel locker business to be jointly used by multiple delivery service providers

Our Customers' Voice

The world is getting more convenient with online shopping becoming more and more popular, but please be mindful of the drivers who are made to work even harder.

The shortage of drivers is now a serious issue. On the other hand, the number of package to be delivered is increasing, with more chance of the addressee not being home to receive them. Immediate consideration for measures to deal with the redelivery issue due to addressees' absence is required.

Our Response

As our customers pointed out, the distribution industry is facing all the challenges including shortage of drivers and sharply rising need for redeliveries. We are, with cooperation of the laborers' union, are promoting to maintain a pleasant working environment. Moreover, we are working to find solutions to various industry issues while utilizing ICT to engage our customers in two-way communication with an aim to improve customer convenience.

We have been providing our Kuroneko Members customers an e-mail notification service for parcels scheduled to be delivered where customers were able to select the date and the time frame to receive the parcels or to choose to pick them up at a convenience store.

Also, starting January 15, 2016, we started a new service to allow our Kuroneko Members customers to change the delivery date and time frame and location with the use of LINE (a popular communication app for smartphones).

These are some of our initiatives to incorporate digital solutions to improve our improve customer service and to streamline internal operations. By creating more opportunities to communicate with our customers, we are hoping to understands and respond to our customers' needs.

To realize a reduction in working hours and creation of a pleasant working environment, we will proactively incorporate new ICT technologies and promote operational efficiency. At the same time, we will be making further efforts to provide services to improve convenience for our customers.

News release (in Japanese only):

Yamato Transport to utilize “LINE” for a more convenient TA-Q-BIN.

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9.Positive comments and suggestions from our customers

Our Customers' Voice

Correspondence regulations are extremely hard to understand. People's values and lifestyles change with the times, so laws should change with the times too, and I'd like to see this happen with the Postal Act.

I think that other companies should receive the same preferential treatment when they do the same work as Japan Post, this state of monopoly without free competition should be eliminated and the government should relax the entry requirements and support new entrants.

The postal service (low rates, broad service, etc.) is crucial for pensioners (the elderly, disabled, etc.), low-income earners and people living in remote areas and outlying islands, so preferential treatment is unavoidable. But I do think that laws and the preferential treatment do need to be reviewed and revised in line with its privatization.

There are a lot of disparate views but what can be said for certain is that there hasn't been enough debate. All these old, unchanged systems produced by government bureaucracy that are unbeneficial to private companies need to be overhauled. I applaud your courage in making your voice heard in this way.

I'd never been interested in these kinds of problems, but reading your newspaper ad made such an impression on me that I got goosebumps. I think it's because I could really sense your strong desire to provide even better service to customers.

In an age when important documents are sent by e-mail, I hope the relevant authorities will not see this as merely Yamato raising this question to attack Japan Post, but sincerely and promptly take it on board to consider.

I was really impressed with your company when I saw an ad for consolidated passenger and cargo buses around New Year's. You make coexistence with social infrastructure and support for shopping and looking after the elderly into a business model. I would vote yes to a policy by a company like yours that earnestly engages in the important work of express delivery and is always thinking about how to better serve customers.

Is there anywhere Kuroneko doesn't deliver to? I think Kuroneko's level of service is good enough to be called universal. They should receive preferential treatment as well.

I agree with abolishing the preferential treatment. Yamato Transport offers all kinds of services, carrying parcels large and small – I say it satisfies the standards of universal service.

With the listing of Japan Post it's been privatized in name and in reality, so it naturally follows that there should be free competition between companies. What's more, it's inconvenient and unfair that users can't freely choose the best service for themselves.

It's a real problem that despite being able to choose from a wide variety of cell phone services based on carriers using the same lines but offering different speeds and prices, we don't have any other options for correspondence.

If the postal service is truly a universal service satisfying the prerequisite that it “seeks to be a socially equal service available to anyone,” it should at least have simple enough standards that parents can explain it to their kids in a way they understand.

First of all, I think it's wonderful how you've collected opinions and properly responded to them. I agree with you regarding the correspondence problem.

I admire your desire to face up to and respond even to critical opinions. Please continue to listen earnestly to customers' comments and work to provide ever better service.

It's a tough question, but by providing a website like this to raise awareness and post information, you've made your case as a company boldly and logically and in a way I understand.

You put out this advertorial on your own, and I wonder if people might have been more convinced if you'd partnered with a number of competitors to make a joint appeal.

I think it'd be more efficient to raise this as an industry problem as a whole rather than just by yourselves, but I am glad you raised the issue of the need to delineate “parcel delivery” and “postal delivery.”

Our Response

In addition to inquiries and criticisms, we have also received a large amount of constructive comments and consents. Thank you very much. We have taken the liberty of posting a few of these comments above.

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10.Comments regarding the service

Our Customers' Voice

Can you change the system so that we could carry the accumulated Kuroneko Points forward (which now expires after 13 months)?

The fact that Kuroneko Members Discounts can only be used on Kuroneko Transport's terminal units is very inconvenient. I think it would be more convenient to have discount service applicable for payments made using nanaco, Rakuten Edy, or WAON.

Because I rarely use Kuroneko Members, I tend to forget my ID and password, and cannot utilize it to enter and issue invoices.

Our Response

Thank you for your valued comments on our Kuroneko Members services.

Since we started the Kuroneko Points in 2012, it has been received well by many of our customers. However, we ask you to understand that the points expire in 13 months, and the system will stay that way.

Kuroneko Members Discount is a discounting system for our delivery services. We provide one card for Kuroneko Members E-money in which our customer can choose from nanaco, WAON, or Rakuten Edy to recharge. And according to the amount of Kuroneko Members E-money recharged, our customers can get up to 15% discounts on delivery prices. (No discount is applied to payments for deliveries made using nanaco, WAON, or Rakuten Edy.)

Also starting March 24, 2016, Kuroneko Members services have become accessible using your Amazon account or Yahoo!JAPAN ID. Customers registered as a member of Kuroneko Members can now log in to the Kuroneko Members account page using the Amazon account or Yahoo!JAPAN ID instead of using Kuroneko Members ID and password.

We will continue to listen to our customers' comments and request and strive to improve our services.

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About opinion advertisement (click here)
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We have received over 3,400 opinions from a wide range of ages. We are extremely grateful – thank you very much.

Breakdown of respondents by age group, gender, and tone of comments are shown in the graphs below.

Breakdown of respondents

Aggregation method: Confirmed and compiled internally at Yamato Transport

We will continue to listen to your comments and work to realize fair and equal competitive conditions in order to contribute to society by offering even more convenient services.

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