A 'shinkansen' high-speed train travels past Hamamatsucho station in Japan’s capital Tokyo on Feb. 9, 2023. AFP PHOTO

Japan eyes stockpiling emergency supplies at post offices

TOKYO: The Japanese government is considering using post offices to stock up on emergency supplies, such as food, water and beddings, for delivery to evacuation areas in case disasters strike, according to local media.

Under the plan, local governments will use post offices as warehouses and store disaster relief supplies in empty spaces, and have their vehicles deliver these supplies to wherever they are needed, Kyodo News said in a report on Sunday, citing government sources.

At a time when Japan grapples with a shrinking population, the government is seeking to leverage the post offices’ nationwide delivery network, which reaches sparsely populated areas to maintain services for residents.

Of the nearly 24,000 post offices in the East Asian country, one — in the city of Sagamihara in central Kanagawa Prefecture, bordering the capital Tokyo — signed an agreement with its local government in 2021 to use its delivery network to transport relief supplies to evacuation centers and other locations.

The government plans to encourage the Sagamihara post office from April to share its knowledge with other post offices and towns that also aim to improve their disaster responses, according to Kyodo News.

Japan’s Cabinet is also considering having post offices provide information about residence status to local governments to confirm people’s safety in case of a disaster, it said.

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