Animal Quarantine Service of Japan (AQS), whose Headquarters are located in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, will be strengthening preventive measures against the introduction of ASF (African Swine Fever), which is spreading across Asia, through meat and meat products in passenger’s luggage.
AQS will make every effort to prevent it through all available resources and means including public awareness on websites, posters and video streaming sites as well as strict border inspection by quarantine detector dogs in the lead up to the Chinese Lunar New Year season (Jan. 24 – 31) when many foreign tourists will visit Japan.
AQS is on high alert to the threat to Japan from ASF which is a rampant contagious disease that has been affecting pigs in Asian countries over the last two years.
Accordingly, from April of last year, there have been strict measures against bringing in illegal meat products. In particular, campaigns are being carried out at each airport, and the security tagged luggage of travelers from ASF affected countries is being given strengthened inspection, especially ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year when the numbers of travelers increase. Offenders are dealt with through cooperation with related organizations such as the police, aiming for increased prevention against the introduction of ASF.
According to AQS, during 2018 there were 93,897 incidents (109,056kg) of undeclared importation of meat products in travelers’ personal goods (baggage) and 11,650 items (13,170kg) in the post, amounting to over 250 cases in portable goods per day. In addition, in 83 of these recent meat product cases, genes have been found displaying traces of ASF virus, and in two cases infectious viruses have been discovered. In cases of importing meat products illegally, imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to one million Japanese Yen can be imposed, and since April of last year seven people have been arrested in four cases.
AQS is expected to increase the number of quarantine detector dogs that are extremely competent in finding meat products to 53 by the end of March and revise the laws to strengthen penalties.
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