Unintentional Oversight Leads to Entry Ban in Japan
① A Tale of Being Banned from Entering Japan
A Korean who entered Japan with beef jerky has sparked a debate as he faces the risk of a permanent ban on entry. A post titled “Question about Detention at a Japanese Airport” was uploaded to an online community. The author had arrived in Japan and passed immigration but was caught at customs for bringing beef jerky.
A customs officer questioned why he was carrying unopened beef jerky. He explained that it is prohibited by Japanese law and asked why the author did not declare the meat at the time of customs declaration. The author explained that he had forgotten about the beef jerky in his suitcase but the customs officer began to inspect everything including his suitcase, shoes, and underwear.
Another officer then explained that he might have to return to Korea.
The author expressed his frustration at facing such action for mistakenly bringing beef jerky but was taken to the interrogation room. When writing the post he had been locked in the interrogation room for two hours being told to wait. He called the Korean Embassy in Japan to explain the situation but was told that there was no way to help.
In the end, he was even denied entry. The customs officer told him to return to Korea as he would be subject to a police investigation upon entry. He was given a document and asked to sign it but he held out and did not sign anything. He said something was stamped on his passport. He also mentioned that his passport was not returned to him.
The post sparked a debate and netizens had various reactions. Comments included, “He mentioned something was stamped in his passport that’s a permanent ban on entry,” “Our country is going crazy because of African swine fever quarantine isn’t for nothing,” “Spam is also usually confiscated,” and “Why didn’t he just throw away the beef jerky from the start and repeatedly disobey the officer’s orders?”
② Caution for Processed Foods like Beef Jerky, Sausage, and Dumplings
Most countries strictly prohibit the importation of agricultural and livestock products upon entry. When importing meat, this is due to the risk of spreading diseases such as African swine fever and avian influenza. Insects can also be introduced when importing fruits or grains. Japan prohibits the importation of meat, meat products, eggs, including shells, and dairy products.
If you illegally import livestock products, you could be sentenced to up to three years in prison or fined up to approximately $23,000. Raw meat and all meat products, including beef jerky, sausage, ham, and dumplings, whether commercially available or homemade, cannot be brought into Japan.
Other countries are also strict about meat importation. In particular, Taiwan strictly prohibits importing meat and meat products. You cannot even carry them on the plane. A Korean who unknowingly visited Taiwan with sausage in his bag was fined approximately $1,700 at the airport, which sparked a debate.
③ Possibility of Spreading African Swine Fever
In 2019, the African swine fever virus gene was confirmed to be present in livestock products carried by travelers entering Korea from China and Vietnam. Two Chinese and two Koreans who had traveled to Vietnam voluntarily declared this during the quarantine process after entering the country.
The virus found in pork products was of the same genotype as the virus that emerged in China. Despite increased airport quarantine, sausages, beef jerky, and meat in soup brought in by travelers were still detected. The confiscated products are stored separately and incinerated once a week.
In 2019, the African swine fever virus gene was found in 16 out of 211 suspected livestock products analyzed. Thus, even unopened meat products can lead to serious situations.
Recently in Taiwan, a variant of the African swine fever virus which has a 100% mortality rate was found in pork products carried by a passenger from China. The Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute announced that two types of viruses the second genotype African swine fever virus which has been prevalent since 2018 and a new recombinant virus, were detected in the meat products. The variant virus is believed to have high transmissibility.
Taiwanese media reported that African swine fever began to break out in northern China in April and is spreading to the central and southern regions. African swine fever is a Class 1 viral infectious disease of livestock with a 100% mortality rate. Currently, no preventive vaccine has been developed.
The importation of plants and livestock products into Korea is strictly prohibited and a fine of up to approximately $4,300 can be imposed if undeclared items are detected.
By. Sung Min Seo