453-gram limit on U.S.-bound mail

by Minoru Matsutani

Japan Post Services Co. said it will stop accepting airmail packages bound for the United States weighing 453 grams (1 pound) or more starting Wednesday because airlines will stop such delivery at the request of U.S. aviation authorities as part of antiterrorism measures.

The postal services arm of Japan Post Holdings Co. handles 16 million letters and packages by air and sea to the U.S. annually, and “15 percent of that will be affected,” a Japan Post spokesman said. That means about 200,000 packages a month will be affected.

The company said it will accept packages from senders that use a service enabling them to pay after delivery instead of beforehand, a service designated for regular customers, even if a package weighs 453 grams or more. The company will notify the public of any changes in the situation, the spokesman said.

The Transportation Security Administration of the U.S. has informed air carriers of the 453-gram rule, and carriers notified Japan Post Services, the spokesman said. The rule applies not only to packages from Japan but from other countries.

Packages containing explosives were found in Britain and Dubai on two cargo planes from Yemen bound for the U.S. in late October. The TSA heightened its aviation alert level since then.

The Japanese units of Fedex Corp., United Parcel Service of America Inc. and DHL International GmbH said they have no similar plans as Japan Post’s. But DHL “will cooperate with the United States and other countries as they have raised (the) security level,” spokeswoman Maho Takahashi said.

Overseas Courier Service Ltd. said it stopped accepting packages Friday to be delivered to the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Africa containing ink cartridges or toner cartridges weighing more than 450 grams.