Surge in Taiwanese caught smuggling ingots into Japan

Surge in Taiwanese caught smuggling ingots into Japan
PHOTO: Reuters

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has called on Taiwanese not to engage in illicit activities abroad, saying a rising number of nationals were reportedly found smuggling gold bars into Japan.

Chou Shyue-yow, deputy director-general of MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said Taiwan's representative office in Japan had received information from Japanese authorities on numerous cases over the past six months.

According to Japanese regulations, visitors to Japan have to make a customs declaration if they bring in gold bullion (not less than 90 per cent purity) exceeding 1 kilogram (kg).

Many Taiwanese, however, were found bringing over 1 kg of gold bars into Japan without declaring it at customs, Chou said.

Chou said he believed the Taiwanese were smuggling gold on behalf of gangsters for the purposes of tax evasion or money laundering.

Last December, Okinawa Customs Ishigaki Branch Office arrested two Taiwanese nationals on suspicion of trying to smuggle 15 kg of gold worth NT$20 million (S$914,900) without properly declaring it at customs.

According to Japanese media reports, gold bar smuggling into Japan has surged since Japan's consumption tax was raised from 5 per cent to 8 per cent in April 2014, hitting gold purchases alongside other items.

Japanese Customs Law and Consumption Tax Law require those who enter Japan to declare gold exceeding 1 kilogram or worth more than 200,000 Japanese yen at customs and to pay an 8 per cent consumption tax on gold.

In 2016, 250 kg of gold were confiscated at Kansai Airport in 53 cases of gold smuggling, a 20 per cent increase from 2015, media reports said.

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