CHIBA (TR) – The number of cases of gold smuggling uncovered at Narita International Airport over the first half of this year has surged compared to the same period one year ago, reports NHK (Dec. 9).
Between January and June, the number of smuggling incidents discovered at the airport was 218, which is 60 percent more than over the same six-month period in 2016, according to Japan Customs officials at the airport.
Fueling the surge in cases is the jump in consumption tax from 5 percent to 8 percent that took place in April of 2014. When bringing gold into Japan, it is necessary to pay the appropriate consumption tax at the customs office.
However, smugglers evade paying that tax and sell the precious metal to local dealers at a price that includes the duty, which results in what is considered an unfair profit.
According to Japan Customs, there has been a surge in smuggling in small amounts, between around 10 grams several hundred grams. Officials are increasingly on alert for coins, keys, strings of beads and bracelets whose gold content has been concealed by paint.
“I want to maximize our ability to implement preventative measures,” one official said.