Japanese Journal of Human Geography
Online ISSN : 1883-4086
Print ISSN : 0018-7216
ISSN-L : 0018-7216
The Locational Development of Post Offices and the Spatial Change of the Mail Transportation Network in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan
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1995 Volume 47 Issue 2 Pages 189-206


The purpose of this paper is to clarify the spatial organization of the postal network. For this purpose, this paper deals with the locational development of post offices (1871-1993) and the spatial change of the mail transportation network (1969-1993) in Nagasaki Prefecture, in which there are a large number of detached islands.
The results of this analysis are summarized as follows:
1) The postal services of Japan started between Tokyo and Osaka in March 1871, and the service areas expanded to Nagasaki in December of that year. Thereafter many post offices were established in Nagasaki Prefecture. Particularly in urban area (e. g. Nagasaki and Sasebo), the locational densities of post offices became crowded. On the other hand, the development of networks in rural areas (particularly detached islands) was slow, therefore many post offices had to be established by the requests of local administrations. At the end of World War II, 92% of the cities, towns and villages as of 1912 got post offices.
2) After World War II, the locations of newly-established post offices were completely restricted within urban areas. On the contrary, postal agencies entrusted by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications were established in rural areas. As a result, the allocation of post offices in urban areas became closer, and the postal network was promoted into the rural settlements, too. Recently, because of depopulation and improvement of transportation facilities, collection-delivery post offices in rural areas have been changed into non-collection-delivery ones, non-collection-delivery ones in the outlying settlements also having been changed into postal agencies.
3) The main network of mail transportation had been formed by railways, and the branch network by automobiles and omnibuses until 1984. A drastic improvement of mail transportation network was carried out in 1984, and most of the mail-routes were formed by automobiles and airlines. The mail transportation network depended upon railway's schedules before 1984, however, it became possible to establish independent routes of mail transportation after that.
4) Under the new system, the Nagasaki Central Post Office is operating as the regional sorting center of Nagasaki Prefecture except for Iki and Tsushima Islands. The routes between Nagasaki Central Post Office and large-scale offices (futsu post offices; e. g. Sasebo, Isahaya, etc.) consist of main lines by private-use trucks, the routes to small-scale offices (tokutei post offices) consisting of branch lines by private-use light vans. As a result, the network characterized by the Nagasaki Central Post Office as the first order center is organized, and the range where express mail from/to Nagasaki city can be deliveried in a day has expanded in most areas, but has been reduced in some parts.
In the spatial organization of the postal network, the author may point out the existence of various regional differences: between urban areas and rural areas (particularly outlying settlements), between the mainland and detached islands, and between Nagasaki city and other areas.

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© The Human Geographical Society of Japan
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