Tokyo, Feb. 18 (Jiji Press)–The amount of illegal drugs seized by Japanese customs in 2020 dropped 43 pct from the previous year to total about 1,906 kilograms in 733 cases, down 30 pct, the Finance Ministry has announced.
The sharp decline is attributed to entry restrictions implemented in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the annual amount topping 1 ton for the fifth consecutive year and hitting the third highest level on record, however, the ministry finds the situation is “very serious,” a ministry official said.
With a view to the end of the pandemic, the ministry plans to strengthen efforts to crack down on drug smuggling, such as introducing new drug detection equipment.
Of the seized drugs, stimulants accounted for about 800 kilograms, down 69 pct from the 2019 level but doubling from a decade ago.
The seizure of MDMA and other narcotic drugs rose 25 pct, and that of cannabis jumped 42 pct.
While the amount of illicit drugs carried to Japan by air decreased, there was a large-scale maritime smuggling case.
Also in 2020, the number of gold bullion smuggling cases came to 51, down 16 pct, and the amount of seized gold fell 53 pct to about 150 kilograms, according to the ministry.
The decrease is believed to be partly thanks to strengthened measures including higher fines following a surge in cases of evading the consumption tax on imported gold.