Update: The Japan Post will be lifting this parcel ban on December 1, 2010.
AS OF TOMORROW, THE JAPAN POST WILL NO LONGER SEND PARCELS MORE THAN 453 GRAMS (1LB) TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
You read that correctly. Citing an incident in which a toner bomb was nearly shipped to the US via Yemen and tightening American shipping policies, the Japan Post is the first of several East Asian countries to announce it will not ship parcels to the US that weigh more than 453 grams. As of now, this ban is indefinite–no word on whether it will last through the holidays.
If you have friends or family living in the US, your options are to either send very lightweight gifts through the Japan Post or to go through private shipping companies such as Yamato Transport, DHL, or FedEx Japan. Due to this incoming wave of restrictions, Yamato and DHL require you to submit either the recipient’s SSN or IRS ID. FedEx Japan has no such requirement, provided your gift is valued at less than 10,000 yen. These private companies will cost at least twice the amount that Japan Post does, and branches are hard to find.
To prove that I am not making this up:
Lauren lives in Komatsu and will be sending her family bitty Totoro towels for Christmas.