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Japan intercepts rising tide of knockoffs

92% of last year's cases came from China

TOKYO -- Cases in which Japanese customs officials blocked counterfeit items from entering the country jumped by 18% in 2017 to the second-highest tally on record as smugglers increasingly favor the postal system over containerships.

There were 30,627 incidents last year of items in violation of Japanese intellectual property codes being stopped at the border, the Ministry of Finance reported. The figure is exceeded only by the total in 2014.

Of last year's cases, 92% came from China. Electronics products such as earphones accounted for the largest share, followed by smartphone cases and other accessories.

However, the actual number of counterfeit items found fell by 19%. Some 92.5% of the cases involved mailed items. Smugglers appear to be shifting from large shipping containers to much smaller postal shipments, the ministry said.

Customs officials can independently block imports of counterfeit items once they are identified. But the Finance Ministry implores holders of intellectual property rights to alert authorities to suspect goods since there are cases where fakes are almost impossible to distinguish from the real deal.

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