Re: A news item and subject which I just want to check out (63) October 14, 2022

■I attended a memorial lecture on “the day of customs brokers”:
In November this year, the customs will reach a milestone and the 150th anniversary will be celebrated since the customs in Japan was renamed from the predecessor “Unjo-sho” to “customs” and started formally. During the time of my previous job, I, as a customs broker which is a part of the company’s business, was the Chairman of Osaka Customs Brokers Association and the Vice Chairman (Acting Chairman) of Japan Customs Brokers Association, and I was deeply involved in customs administration and customs clearance.
In that kind of relationship, on October 11 Tuesday this week, I attended a memorial lecture on “the day of customs brokers” held by Japan Customs Brokers Association where I am the adviser now, and met nostalgic people after a long absence. The memorial lecture was done by Mariko Bando, the president and chancellor of Showa Women’s University, on the right side of the photo and the subject of her speech was “globalization and women’s career”. It had a highly suggestive and meaningful contents. As far as “female success promotion” is concerned, I am strongly interested in it, and I am thinking that I will discuss this matter before long.
By the way, 15 years ago, I had contributed to columns called “one word in one hundred silences” for one year, accepting a request by a monthly magazine “Taru” which was composed of mainly “drinking culture”. Among them, there was a description concerned with “customs” and “customs clearance” in September 2007, and I transcribe it as bellow for your reference.
*“The day of customs brokers” was established as “October 8”, in commemoration of the enforcement of revised customs business act on October 8, 2017.
 Re: Customs Clearance
“Customs clearance” is essential for international logistics which means import and export of goods. “Customs clearance” has various procedures such as permission getting through customs, former checkpoints, and payment of taxes like custom duties and consumption tax, A customs broker like our company does our business on behalf of an owner of goods. Incidentally, a “registered customs specialist” is a person who passes the national exam held once a year and is qualified to conduct customs clearance business, and there are about 6,000 people in Japan now.
By the way, the customs are an external bureau of the Ministry of Finance, and its predecessor is “Unjo-sho” established in Hakodate, Kanagawa, and Nagasaki in 1859 when the Edo shogunate shifted from a policy of national isolation lasted for many years to opening up the country. After that, it was renamed “customs” in 1872, and now there are regional headquarters in Hakodate, Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Moji, Nagasaki, and Okinawa. And at all international airports and major seaports there are branch offices. I think that you experienced a custom baggage inspection at the airport.
Incidentally, a role of the customs is not only a collection of taxes, which is an original role, but also it is important to secure safety such as correspondence to informalization or IT introduction, and complicated international situation and foreign trade such as sanctions against North Korea, a confirmation of origin, and so on and countering terrorism recently. For instance, these are border control measures against social evil goods such as firearms, illicit drugs, and so on, goods of infringement of intellectual rights such as imitations and pirate edition, and compliance of Washington Convention, in other words, protection of rare animals and plants. And the customs keep an eye out for the crimes such as illegal exporting of stolen cars and industrial waste. In order to do that, requirement necessary for customs brokers is also advanced and diversified. And thorough compliance with the law and improving registered customs specialist’s ability are urgent tasks.
Written by Takashi Tsuji
Chairman of Konoike Transport Co., Ltd.

■An increase in bankruptcies:
The border control measures against COVID-19 have been almost abolished, and the door to foreign visitors to Japan has spread. And at the same time, support for travel all over the country has also started, and the expectation of travel industry has risen. I went to Tokyo on October 12 when the ban has been lifted, and foreigners stood out both in town and at the hotel, and group tourists apparently increased at the station. However, Chinese visitors to Japan who accounted for about 30% of total foreign visitors to Japan, 31.88 million, in 2019 before the occurrence of COVID-19 have still obstructive factor which is quarantine after returning China, and I think that full-scale recovery will take time.
There are encouraging signs in the travel industry, but on the other hand, the number of corporate bankruptcies which have been suppressed to a low level begins to increase for the first time in three years, because of the rise of fuel and raw material price due to surging prices of resources and the yen’s depreciation, and rising pressure of labor cost due to labor shortage.
According to Tokyo Shoko Research, the number of corporate bankruptcies in Japan from April to September reached 3,141, increased by 7% over the same period of the previous year.
Bankruptcies of transportation industry which could not pass fuel prices onto freight rates (162 cases increased by 42%) and construction industry in which the rise of the raw material prices has become a burden (increased by 15%) were remarkable. Repayment of loan without collateral and interest in real terms, so called zero and zero loan, which was implemented as a relief for COVID-19, will begin. Therefore, there are concerns about an increase of business operators which have difficulty in their management.

≪P.S.≫ According to survey results of Japan Sports Agency in 2021, the score which shows from 65 to 74 years old male physical fitness is the record low in the last ten years, and it is said that there is a tendency for the physical strength of elderly people to decline. Japan is the world’s pre-eminent society in longevity. The average Japanese life expectancy is 87.57 years in women (the longest in the world) and 81.47 years in men (the third longest in the world). On the other hand, according to health life expectancy as of 2019 compiled by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the result is 75.38 years in women and 72.68 years in men. Therefore, from 10 to 12 years, the difference between health life expectancy and average life expectancy of both men and women according to these calculations, we have to live getting help from others. In order to reduce the burden on the surroundings, it is asked for each person to make an effort and extend its health life expectancy.
I take a bath in the morning and evening twice a day, as my own health promotion method. And in the morning, I spend about 20 minutes exercising starting from breathing deeply, stretch and squat using rubber tape, which is sold at hospital store, taught in physical therapy when I had heart surgery 17 years ago, sit-ups, standing on one leg, and so on. If you have two tatami mats, you can exercise enough, and you don’t have to go to the gym. Even when I travel, I always bring rubber tape. It is said that “slow but steady wins the race”, and I suppose that “do what you can keep doing” might be better for you.

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