Shippers to be Required to Make Plans to Reduce Cargo Waiting Time to Address Logistics Industry’s ‘2024 Problem’

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Trailer trucks carry automobile parts in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture.

The government plans to revise two logistics-related laws in a bid to address the so-called 2024 logistics problem, or an anticipated shortage of truck drivers and a decline in transportation capacity. The revised laws will require shippers to formulate specific plans to reduce the waiting time for cargo to be loaded or unloaded, according to the outline of the bills.

With the revised laws, the government aims to make the multiple subcontractor structure of the logistics industry more visible and improve the low wages of truck drivers.

Starting in April, laws related to work style reform will be applied to the truck drivers, changing their long working hours. Compared to the average of all industries, truck drivers are said to work 20% longer and earn 10% less.

The government will revise related laws to review business practices and promote proper logistics contracts. The government plans to submit the bills to the current Diet session.

The proposed bills would designate shippers of a certain size as specified businesses and require them to formulate improvement plans and report on the status of their efforts on a regular basis. To clarify responsibilities within the company, the bills will require shippers to appoint a chief logistics manager. If the efforts are insufficient, the government will be able to issue recommendations or corrective orders.

The transportation industry is characterized by a multiple subcontracting structure. Therefore, the more intermediaries there are, the less funds are available for wages of the transportation drivers. Prime contractors will be required to prepare account books that clarifies the status of subcontracting.

According to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, truck drivers work an average of 12 hours and 26 minutes per day, of which more than three hours are spent waiting for cargo or loading and unloading — tasks that have nothing to do with transportation.