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New Year’s greeting postcards for 2022 have gone on sale across Japan this month, using internationally certified paper produced from forests that have not been illegally logged to show consideration for environmental protection.

Japan Post Co. initially issued some 1.83 billion postage-paid nengajō postcards, down 6% from the previous year and the lowest since records began in 2004, as many people now use social media for the seasonal greetings.

The downturn is also attributable to weakening demand from companies as part of efforts to cut costs following the coronavirus pandemic.

With 2022 being the Year of the Tiger under the 12-sign Chinese zodiac, Japan Post prepared special postcards with illustrations related to the animal.

The top prize of a lottery that offers otoshidama New Year’s gifts based on the number printed on each postcard is a choice of ¥300,000 ($2,600) in cash or ¥310,000-worth of electronic money gifts.

Postal offices will start accepting the greeting cards from Dec. 15, and the company has set Dec. 25 as the recommended deadline for sending the cards for delivery on the New Year’s Day.

“Although digital communications such as SNS have become mainstream, I hope people will convey their thoughts and feelings to each other through nengajō,” Japan Post President Kazuhide Kinugawa said on Nov. 1 at a ceremony in Tokyo to mark the start of the sales.

Yuka Nakamura, 49, a company employee in Tokyo who purchased some cards at a post office near JR Tokyo Station, said, “I want to send nengajō cards to my colleagues whom I haven’t seen as I have been working from home a lot this year.”

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