Illegal importation of livestock products on the rise in Japan

35,729 kg of illegal livestock products were imported in 2022
calendar icon 21 February 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

In late January, Japanese authorities arrested a foreign national on suspicion of illegally importing livestock products using international mail, according to a press release from Japan Animal Quarantine Service.

The person arrested on this occasion is suspected of attempting to bring livestock products such as meat products, which are prohibited from being imported into Japan, together with other foodstuffs including items of confectionery from overseas using international mail on multiple occasions.

In order to prevent the invasion of livestock infectious diseases, it is prohibited by law in Japan to bring meat such as pork and chicken and meat products such as sausages and ham from many countries and regions including Asia, regardless of the quantity or mode of transportation.

When livestock products are brought into Japan illegally, there is a possibility of a maximum of 3 years imprisonment or a fine of up to 3 million yen (up to 50 million yen for businesses).

With an increasing outbreak of African swine fever, a highly lethal disease characterised by hemorrhagic lesions throughout the body, in Asian countries, the Animal Quarantine Service in Japan (AQS) has been strengthening the inspection of international mail and hand luggage arriving from overseas by, for example, increasing the number of animal and plant quarantine detector dogs.

According to preliminary figures announced in 2022, 54,429 cases (35,729 kg) of illegal livestock products imported as the personal effects (hand luggage) of travellers and 52,944 cases (85,683 kg) of illegal livestock products imported as international mail were discovered. 

The amount of meat products discovered in international mail has risen to a daily average of over 234 kg.

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