The government is considering using post offices to stockpile emergency supplies such as food, water and bedding, with an eye to delivering them to evacuation areas in the event of disasters, government sources said.

Under the plan, local governments will use post offices as storage bases and their vehicles will deliver the supplies to where they are needed, the sources said.

Among some 24,000 post offices in Japan, one in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, concluded an agreement with a local government in 2021 to use its delivery network to transport supplies to evacuation centers and other locations.

The post office stockpiles relief goods such as cardboard beds and blankets in spaces rented out by the local government.

The government plans to encourage the post office from April this year to share its knowledge with other post offices and municipalities that are also aiming to enhance their disaster responses, the sources said.

Among other measures, the government is considering having post offices provide status information to local governments to confirm the safety of residents in the event of a disaster.

Japan Post, the operator of post offices, will work out details on the content of the information to be supplied and how it will be used.

A number of post offices in the country are taking over some of the duties usually assigned to local governments, such as issuing residence certificates. The central government is looking at expanding the administrative work that can be entrusted to post offices.

Japan Post is a unit of Japan Post Holdings, which is roughly one-third owned by the government. The state is involved in some of Japan Post's decision-making, including approving business plans.