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Japan Post makes foray into support services for elderly

Mail deliverers get new duties as firm diversifies ahead of listing

Kyodo

Japan Post Co. said Monday it will begin offering support services for the elderly in October by making use of its mail delivery network, stepping beyond its postal, savings and insurance businesses for the first time.

The nominally privatized mail firm has a nationwide network of around 24,000 post offices. Postal workers will visit the homes of the elderly to check on their health or act as personal shoppers for them on a monthly basis.

The move marks a further attempt at diversification for gigantic Japan Post, which is already involved in banking and insurance. Its parent, Japan Post Group, is trying to bolster its business with an eye to going public around spring 2015.

Last month, Japan Post Group said it would expand its business collaboration with American Family Life Assurance Co. (Aflac) to sharply increase outlets that handle the U.S. insurer’s cancer policies and jointly develop cancer insurance products.

Japan Post is planning to launch the new service for the elderly at 103 post offices in six prefectures — Hokkaido, Miyagi, Yamanashi, Ishikawa, Okayama and Nagasaki — and eventually throughout the country by April 2015, it said.

It will begin soliciting customers Monday for a membership program that will start with a basic fee of ¥1,050 each month.

The services will include an outsourced 24-hour telephone counseling hotline for medical and lifestyle issues, and for reporting of subscribers’ health and living conditions in writing to family members who live far away.

For additional fees, subscribers can get monthly delivery of groceries that are hard to carry, such as rice, drinking water and toilet papers.

It will also provide a service that provides daily phone calls to check up on them.