Japan Post’s mail segment incurs 56.2 bil. yen midterm loss

Japan Post said Wednesday its mail delivery service posted a 56.2 billion yen net loss in the April-September period of fiscal 2004.

Japan Post blamed the sector’s red ink on the growing number of people using e-mail instead of ordinary postal services.

The public postal service entity was reporting its midterm results for the first time on a trial basis.

Although it reduced personnel expenses, the shrinkage in the amount of conventional mail outweighed the effects of the cost cut, it said.

When Japan Post closed its full-year books for the year to March 31, 2004, the mail segment returned to the black for the first time in two years.

It is customary for the amount of mail handled by Japan Post to dwindle in the first half of each fiscal year. But the booking of midterm red ink has revived questions about the ability of Japan Post’s mail delivery segment to keep its net balance in the black in the coming years.

The results may have ramifications for the debate in ruling coalition circles on how Japan Post should let its service segments — mail, postal savings and insurance — share the large costs in the mail sector to realize the government’s promise to have post offices provide a range of services at uniform charges nationwide.

Japan Post as a whole booked a midterm net profit of 361 billion yen on the combined operating revenues of 10.18 trillion yen earned by the mail and other segments.

Japan Post said it expects the mail segment to book a full-year net profit in the current year to March 31, given that the number of “Yu-Pack” parcels for its door-to-door delivery service has already reached an all-time high, breaking the record set in fiscal 1970.

The postal savings segment booked a midterm net profit of 417.3 billion yen, it said.

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