Yamato vs Sagawa vs Japan Post: New Rates from September Comparison

When Yamato's labour union asked management to stop accepting additional business, shockwaves hit the nation because Japan has now officially become the first market in the world to reach full parcel deliveries capacity, it seems.

As at end March 2017, Yamato announced that it delivered a total of 1,867,563,562 parcels for the financial year. If it still has 48% of the market, the total number of parcels delivered in fiscal 2016 would be estimated to be just under 4 billion, or approximately 50 parcels a year for every Japanese person aged between 15 and 64. As an avid e-commerce fan, I probably receive at least double that, and it is certainly enough for me to wish there was a more frequent collection of used cardboard boxes than the current once a month. (We have to sort our rubbish in Japan, and waste to be recycled has designated collection days each month by category. For cardboard, it is once a month where I live, on the last Wednesday of the month.)

And since the Yamato announcement, we have seen postings by a courier insider blowing the whistle on the inhumane working conditions at a courier, and more recently, Nikoniko published interviews of staff at a courier depot and an amazon depot, in which the courier staff claims that his work hours are from 8 to 28, or 8 am to 4 am the following day. There is also mention of how the legally mandated one-hour lunch break is cut back to as little as 15 minutes during peak times, and management insisting that drivers continue to deliver after midnight if he has not emptied his truck, despite the last delivery slot being up to 9 pm.

Against this harsh backdrop of too much growth killing the industry players like a voracious cancer eating its way through the host, price hikes are coming into play from September 2017. Yamato is raising its published rates for the first time in 27 years, and will officially become the most expensive courier of the big 3.


Sizes are determined by the total measurement of the box: Height + Width + Depth.

The table shows that Sagawa has already introduced new weight surcharges above the thresholds. Previously, as in the case of Yamato and Japan Post, the weight limit for the standard prices was 20kg across the board. But now, Sagawa charges surcharges based on the different weight limits for each size.

In addition to the price hike, Yamato has announced that it will reduce the different delivery time slots from the current 6 slots to 5, doing away with the 12pm to 2 pm slot. 

Also, Yamato currently allows recipients to call for a 2nd delivery attempt up to 8 pm on the day of the attempted delivery, but is cutting that down to 7 pm for same day delivery of the initially failed delivery attempt.

There will also be discounts of 50 yen for electronic shipping labels and a further 50 yen for deliveries being picked up at Yamato's directly operated delivery stations.

No Sign of Decline in Volumes for Yamato at This Time

Yamato's volumes are showing no signs of declining despite its reduction in business with amazon, whereby amazon is being forced to farm out its same-day delivery parcels and other deliveries to one of its five new delivery partners who aggregate small and medium sized local delivery agents.

According to its press releases, Yamato's volume since April are as follows:

  • April 2017: 143,361,077 (103.4% over previous year)
  • May 2017: 149,033,220 (107.3% over previous year)
  • June 2017: 158,455,390 (104.6% over previous year)

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