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Meeting between senior executives of customs services of Russia and Japan

On January 11, 2006 a meeting was held between Andrei Belyaninov, Head of the Customs Service of the Russian Federation and Yukiyasu Aoyama, Director General of Administration for Customs Fees and Tariffs of the Ministry of Finance of Japan. The Russian part was represented by Igor Zavrazhnov and Tatyana Golendeeva, deputy heads of the Federal Customs Service of Russia as well as by heads of a number of departments of the Central Office of the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation. The Japanese delegation was represented by executives of Administration for Customs Fees and Tariffs of the Ministry of Finance of Japan and the Embassy of Japan in Moscow.

During the meeting the parties discussed live issues of cooperation between Japan and Russia in customs domain including those in the field of customs fees and tariffs. Thus, Andrei Belyaninov, Head of Customs Service of the Russian Federation, suggested that the participants of the meeting should keep their mind on those problems, which obstructed escalation of cooperation between the two services and which would have yet to be overcome. He stated: “We could be cooperating more closely and facilitating trade and economic integration of the two countries”. Amongst these problems: conservation of living marine resources; struggle against “shadow” schemes, e.g. when commodities of famous Japanese brands penetrate the Russian market not directly from Japan, but through other countries; non-admission of infringing goods into the customs territory of Russia. The head of Russian customs agency specially pointed at the necessity of a closer cooperation between customs services of Russia and Japan as to the issues of exchange of customs statistics, which could facilitate enhancement of efficiency of law enforcement activity of customs authorities of the two countries and betterment of customs control on their borders. This suggestion was validated by considerable data discrepancies regarding trade turnover between the two countries, primarily in the field of exportation from Russia to Japan of sea fishery products, oil and oil products as well as Russian timber.

One of the core points at issue was the question of the prospects of concluding of the Russia-Japan intergovernmental agreement on cooperation and mutual aid in customs affairs. The parties expressed their willingness to intensify this activity, which requires coordination of a number of items, and taking into account of restrictions of the Japanese law on exchange of information with other countries, which might be used in criminal practice. With this end in view, it is intended to conduct a bilateral meeting at the expert level.
Mutual interest was kindled by the issue of control over export-import of fissionable and radioactive materials. A.Belyaninov expressed willingness of the agency under his command to share the gained experience with the Japanese colleagues, as well as to adopt their experience and to have a look at modern technologies, which they use in this field.

Igor Zavrazhnov, Deputy Head of the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation, pitched in more details upon the issues of cooperation of law enforcement units of the customs services of Russia and Japan. As ways of improvement of this cooperation, he suggested to take advantage of the experience gained by the Russian customs agency in its relations with the colleagues from Finland and the Baltic states at the level of expert groups.

In his turn, Yukiyasu Aoyama, Director General of Administration for Customs Fees and Tariffs, stated that it was the first meeting between heads of the customs services in the modern history of the two states. He confirmed preparedness of the service under his command for a closer cooperation with the customs authorities of the Russian Federation at the level of the Federal Customs Service of Russia and at the regional level as well.

Andrei Belyaninov expressed hope that the results of the completed discussions would facilitate further expansion of cooperation between customs authorities of Russia and Japan.


At present, interaction has been established between the customs services of Russia and Japan in the field of law enforcement activities. In particular, Russian customs personnel and their Japanese colleagues work in close cooperation in the framework of administering of international requests for violation of customs rules and of regular exchange of information between regional communications centers “RILO-Moscow (on the CIS countries) and “RILO-Tokyo” (on Asia Pacific states), functioning in the framework of activities of the World Customs Organization (WCO). 

Another field of cooperation of the customs services of Russia and Japan – control of illicit traffic of prohibited goods. Thus, with the purpose of prevention of illicit export to Japan of sea fishery products in February of 2006 the agreement was reached with the Japanese customs service on regular delivery of information to the Russian party in respect of cases of calls of Russian sea vessels to Japanese sea ports when loaded with sea fishery products. Furthermore, beginning from April of 2002 the Japanese party had introduced the system, providing that unloading of sea fishery products from Russian vessels would be allowed only upon delivery of the original freight customs entry, issued by the customs authorities of the Russian Federation. Thereby, a ban was placed on the practice of unloading of these products under so called “certificates of harbour clearance”.

In its turn, the Russian party, commencing from July 20, 2002, began to transfer to Japanese customs authorities the information related to sea fishery products, which are exported from the Russian customs territory to consignees in Japan and which is cleared by the customs authorities of the Far East Customs Administration.

The results of Russian-Japanese coordination in this field has shown that actions themselves, executed by customs authorities, including transfer of electronic format data to Japanese party, can not solve the problem of illegal fishery and contraband traffic of marine resources. Poachers and smugglers are constantly finding ways of law evasion. Therefore, only well coordinated actions of concerned Russian and Japanese agencies can bring about a real effect in this field. In this regard, along with technological interplay it is necessary to intensify development of inter-agency information communication, including the one at the regional level.