TOKYO — Japan’s Cabinet approved Tuesday a reform bill to further strengthen countermeasures at its ports and airports against African swine fever from entering the country.
The measures against the deadly disease spreading across Asia include increased fines for illegally bringing meat products into the country and greater authority for inspectors to screen passengers’ luggage to prevent livestock infection.
The government hopes to enact the bill to revise the infectious disease control law for domestic animals by around April ahead of a surge of foreign tourists for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, officials said.
The African swine fever affects pigs and wild boars, and there is no vaccine for the disease. It has a higher fatality rate than that of classical swine fever, which has spread in certain areas in Japan.
The new measures are a second step in the country’s fight against livestock diseases, following an earlier revision to the law to allow the culling of healthy swine livestock in areas where the African swine fever breaks out.
Under the bill, individuals importing meat products without undergoing necessary inspections will face imprisonment of up to three years and fine of up to 3 million yen ($27,000). The fine will be tripled from the current level.
Companies found violating the law will be fined up to 50 million yen, increased 50 times.
Port and airport inspectors will be allowed to forcibly unpack luggage and discard meat products if necessary, the officials said.
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