Japan cracks down on African swine fever and Chinese tourists carrying pork products into the country
Awareness campaign has been aimed in large part at the tens of thousands of Chinese visitors coming to Japan during the Lunar New Year holiday
The ministry’s website includes images of a number of pork products reportedly confiscated from inbound Chinese travellers
Julian Ryall, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)
05 February, 2019
Japanese authorities are taking no chances with an outbreak of highly virulent swine fever that has been raging in Gifu Prefecture since September, now spreading to a seventh farm and leading to the culling of 1,600 pigs in late January.
Officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries told the South China Morning Post that a total of 11,000 pigs have been culled and they are still working to confirm how the illness spreads.
“We are investigating the possible routes of the infection but our present theory is that it is being spread through the local population of wild boar, a number of which we have confirmed to have tested positive for the virus,” said Yunosuke Yanagi, a spokesman for the ministry.
Humans are not susceptible to infection even if the meat of an animal with the virus is consumed, according to medical specialists.
The ministry’s efforts to bring the outbreak under control are being complemented by a campaign being waged at Japan’s airports and seaports to halt imports of pork products that have not been examined by quarantine officials for signs of any one of a number of livestock diseases.
That drive has taken the form of a poster and social media campaign aimed in large part at the tens of thousands of Chinese visitors coming to Japan during the Lunar New Year holiday and whom authorities fear may be carrying products that are infected with the African swine fever virus.
National broadcaster NHK reported quarantine measures have been expanded against imports of Chinese pork products due to “multiple outbreaks and the rapid spread” of African swine fever in China. Officials said there was no indication the present outbreak of swine fever in central Japan was linked to imports of tainted meat products from abroad but they were determined to prevent potential additional outbreaks.
Yanagi confirmed an additional 270 quarantine officials have been dispatched to airports and seaports around the nation, bringing the total to 400, and they will be conducting additional spot checks on inbound tourists and Japanese returning from holidays abroad to ensure they are not carrying any forbidden items.
Posters in Japanese, Chinese, English and Korean are displayed in ports, warning anyone found breaking the law could be fined up to 1 million yen (US$71,400) or jailed for up to three years.
The ministry’s website and posters include images of a number of pork products reportedly confiscated from inbound Chinese travellers although travel companies say they cannot recall any incidents involving their customers being detained for having illegal foodstuffs in their baggage.
Kaori Mori, of domestic travel giant JTB, said: