/

Postage rates, soda prices to rise

JIJI

Letters and postcards will cost ¥2 more to send from next April, reflecting the consumption tax hike, according to sources.

Japan Post Co. will raise the postage prices for postcards from ¥50 to ¥52, while standard letters weighing no more than 25 grams go from ¥80 to ¥82, according to sources.

The postal service unit of state-owned Japan Post Holdings Co. plans to apply to the internal affairs minister in November for the first rate hike in about 20 years, according to the sources.

The consumption tax rate is due to rise to 8 percent from the current 5 percent in April.

Strictly speaking, postage for postcards should rise to about ¥51.4, but the company plans to round up the figure to ¥52 while adjusting other rates to pass on the tax hike to customers through changes to the overall postage rate scheme, the sources said.

Meanwhile, price hikes are also expected in the beverage industry. Soft drink makers plan an industrywide agreement to raise prices under a special law designed to make it easier for companies to pass on the consumption tax hike to consumers, separate sources said.

Member firms of the Japan Soft Drink Association are hammering out a price hike agreement expected to be finalized at its board meeting as early as this month.

The industry group plans to ask the Japan Fair Trade Commission to approve the temporary “cartel” under the special law, which took effect on Oct. 1.

Price competition is increasingly fierce among soft drink makers. In particular, struggling small and midsize beverage makers fear that it might be difficult to convince major distributors to accept price hikes in line with the tax hike.