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Business trends

Japan Customs ill-equipped to handle surge in cruise passengers

Situation ripe for drug and gold smugglers to take advantage of a soft spot

Cruise ship passengers are inundating Japan Customs' capacity to handle them. One day this spring, agents in Yokohama had to handle 20,000 arrivals. (Courtesy  Yokohama Customs)

TOKYO -- With more cruise ships calling at the nation's ports, the influx of passengers has highlighted Japan Customs' acute manpower shortage.

Last year, the number of cruise passengers coming ashore in Japan was 14 times more than in 2013. Over the same five years, the number of customs agents increased 7%. One customs source said the agency's ability to handle cruise passengers is nearing its limits.

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