China, South Korea source of record pirated goods haul

Kyodo News

Japan’s nine customhouses handled a record 19,591 cases of counterfeit imports in 2006, up 46 percent from the previous year, with most products originating from China and South Korea, according to the Finance Ministry.

By country or region, 9,440 cases, or 48.2 percent of the total, involved China, excluding Hong Kong, making China the largest supplier of products that violate intellectual property rights for the second straight year, the ministry said.

Next came South Korea, accounting for 8,720 cases, or 44.5 percent.

The two Asian neighbors were the source of 92.7 percent of all counterfeit import cases in 2006, up from 91.5 percent in 2005.

The Philippines ranked third with 445 cases, accounting for 2.3 percent of the total, followed by Hong Kong with a 2.2 percent share and Thailand with a 1.8 percent share, the ministry said.

The number of counterfeit goods seized by customhouses totaled 979,224 in 2006, down 10.8 percent from 2005.

As a result, the average number of items seized in each case was 50 in 2006, down from 82 the previous year.

“This suggests that smugglers have become sophisticated, using small-lot shipments in the face of a crackdown by Japan’s customs authorities,” a ministry official said.

Japan and China agreed last April to cooperate in customs information-sharing. Of the total number of fake goods seized, 283,201 were bags, 171,681 were clothing items and 28,653 were cellular phones or related items, the ministry said.