Financing the Recovery

Financing the recovery

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake rocked Japan, causing extensive damage to the north-eastern part of the country. It was the most powerful earthquake in Japan’s history, damaging hundreds of thousands of buildings and causing considerable loss of life. Four years later, the devastating effects of the deadly force are still felt in the hearts and minds of Japan’s citizens. In one of many actions to finance ongoing recovery efforts, Japan is selling a well-known state asset.

In a move expected to take place later this year, Japan is preparing to sell shares of Japan Post Holdings Co. in three separate initial public offerings. In addition to Japan Post, the holdings company also includes Japan Post Bank Co and Japan Post Insurance Co. The first IPO round is expected to provide more than $8 billion in funding, but that could change based on investor evaluation of earnings growth potential of the company.

In addition to struggling with reduced earnings due to decreased demand for its letter delivery operations and low interest earnings on its financial products, the company will face restrictions on its flexibility. The soon-to-be publicly owned company must obtain approval from government regulators before venturing into any new businesses. The requirement could extend the time it takes to pursue new endeavors if it receives permission to do so.

If the sale of Japan Post Holdings proves as fruitful as the government anticipates, it could provide a needed infusion of cash to support continued earthquake recovery efforts in the country.

Tornado Devastates Local Community

Desks under which two Pilger Post Office employees took shelter during the tornado.

Desks under which two Pilger Post Office employees took shelter during the tornado.

Postal employees in Pilger, NE, continued to deliver the mail last week after two tornadoes tore through the small farming community.

On June 16, the tornadoes damaged or destroyed three-quarters of the town’s buildings, including the Pilger Post Office. One employee’s house was significantly damaged.

Two employees were inside the Post Office when the tornadoes hit but escaped without injury. After the storms dissipated, Norfolk, NE, Postmaster Joe Kittelson and Norfolk, NE, Rural Carrier Darcy Kleinschmit drove to the Pilger Post Office, sorted through the debris, recovered all of the mail and secured it until Postal Inspectors arrived from Omaha, NE.

“While our postal employees work to continue to connect the mail with area residents, our thoughts and prayers are with members of our community who have been impacted by the devastating tornadoes,” said Manager of Post Office Operations Dawn Bayer.

Postal operations in Pilger, located in northeast Nebraska, were moved to the nearby Wisner Post Office.

“I was touched by the dedication and determination of the employees who, after suffering through such a frightening ordeal, remained at the Post Office and volunteered to assist in the recovery efforts,” said Omaha, NE, Postal Inspection Service Team Leader Tom Harding.

Omaha, NE, Senior Plant Manager Brian Gaines praised the employees for “how they pulled together under very difficult circumstances.”

David Herout, a retired postal employee, was one of two people who died during the storm, along with a 5-year-old girl.

From Dead Letter office to Mail Recovery Center

Dead letter

In the early history of the Post Office, how to handle letters that were undeliverable as addressed became a vexing problem. They couldn’t just be thrown away, because it would damage the advertised integrity and security of the mail.

In 1825, the Postal Department designated “dead letter offices” where clerks were authorized to open mail and try to determine where it should be redirected.

By the end of the 19th century, it wasn’t uncommon for dead letter offices to handle as many as 23,000 pieces of mail a day.

About 40 percent of the mysterious pieces of mail were reunited with a sender or a recipient.

Later, as more valuables were coming to the dead letter offices, some hiring preferences were put in place. Retired clergymen were hired for their honesty and more women were added as they were thought to be better an analyzing complex and complicated addresses.

Today, with the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta, the volume is much larger and the process much more complex.

Last year, about 82 million items were processed by the MRC. Of that total, 57 percent of items were determined to be of “possible value” and were returned or forwarded.

Read the Smithsonian article here.

  • Hello, I'm Benny the Blogger: I'm the world's most famous postal employee. My hobbies are snappy quotes, kite flying and publishing. I was born Jan. 17, 1706, but don't call me old.

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