Japan Post Co. plans to raise prices for the first time in 20 years if the administration proceeds with the first stage of the consumption tax hike next April, officials said.

Postage for mail weighing 25 grams or less will be raised to ¥82 from ¥80, while the cost of sending a postcard will rise to ¥51 from ¥50, the officials said Friday.

Given the decline in mail volume, Japan Post officials think it will be difficult to deal with the sales tax hike without raising prices.

The company has yet to decide whether to increase charges for parcel delivery as well because it is a highly competitive area. It said any decision will be based on what its rivals do.

The decision on the consumption tax hike is expected to be announced early next month. The first stage would raise it to 8 percent from the current 5 percent, and the second phase would complete its doubling to 10 percent by the end of October 2015.

Vietnam looks for help

The government is close to reaching an agreement to help Vietnam introduce a Japanese-style postal system to enhance service quality, officials said.

Japan plans to help Vietnam introduce automatic postal-code reading and sorting machines, and improve its mail distribution network, the government officials said Friday.

Masahiko Shibayama, senior vice minister of internal affairs and communications, will travel to Vietnam on Sunday and sign the agreement this week.