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Japanese consumers hit by round of price hikes across many industries

JIJI

Delivery, food and many other companies raised prices Sunday to cover spiraling materials and labor costs.

Although some of the markups will be made in the wholesale stage, Japanese households, which have increasingly tightening their purse strings, will incur more damage to their pocketbooks because retail price hikes are likely to follow.

As the second half of the fiscal year began on Sunday, major parcel delivery firm Yamato Transport Co. raised its basic shipping rates for individuals by 15 percent on average amid driver shortages and the growth in online shopping.

The hike is the first by the Yamato Holdings Co. unit in 27 years, apart from the national sales tax hike to 8 percent from 5 percent in April 2014.

Yamato Transport is now negotiating with its corporate customers, including Amazon Japan G.K. and other website retailers, on raising their rates.

Among food makers, Ninben Co. lifted wholesale prices for dried bonito products by about 10 to 25 percent. Momoya Co. and Nisshin Oillio Group Ltd. meanwhile raised wholesale prices for 17 boiled laver products and for cooking oil products, respectively.

Those hikes are likely to be followed by retail markups, industry sources said.

At the retail level, Torikizoku Co., a chain of yakitori pubs, will increased its uniform per-item price to ¥298 from ¥280 before tax, the first hike in 28 years.

And, in an apparent bid to improve profitability at a time when the smoking population is in decline and electric cigarettes are attracting more smokers, Philip Morris Japan Ltd. carried out markups on 32 cigarette brands of ¥10 per pack. One pack contains 20 cigarettes.

Meanwhile, long-term inpatients aged 65 or over will face rises in utility fees charged by hospitals, which are aimed at curbing the cost of national medical insurance.

Among the some 210,000 elderly inpatients nationwide, those with relatively minor illnesses will have to pay ¥370 per day, up from ¥320.