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Yamato Transport, Sagawa Express feel the need for speed

Japan's logistics giants seek looser speed limits to combat labor shortage, long hours

TOKYO -- Japan's two largest home delivery services, Yamato Transport and Sagawa Express, are requesting higher speed limits on large trucks as a measure to counter driver shortages.

The two companies have proposed raising the truck speed limit to 100kph on highways, the same as for passenger cars and motorcycles, from the current 80. Large-sized buses are allowed to travel up to 100kph, leading Yamato and Sagawa to request the same.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, drivers of large trucks work nearly 20% longer per year than the national average. Increasing the speed limit could reduce working time and make it easier to attract truck drivers by alleviating their burden.

Yamato and Sagawa also requested more leniency for parking violations. Parking rules were tightened in 2006. The current law allows for parking in restricted areas for unloading purposes, but only for five minutes. Drivers, if away from their vehicles even for less than five minutes for delivery, are subject to violations.

The request comes as labor shortages and increasing online sales take a heavier toll on the parcel delivery giants. Both companies are currently resorting to renting parking spots or assigning two drivers to a truck to avoid penalties. 

Last year, a scandal occurred where Sagawa employees asked acquaintances to turn themselves in for parking violations in their place to avoid getting tickets.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism plans to draw up by summer the government's logistics policy over the next five years. The ministry is expected to give the requests some consideration at a meeting of experts on Friday, due to the worsening labor shortage. But because coordination with the police and other agencies is necessary, loosening the rules could prove difficult.

(Nikkei)

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