[imText1]At the Prime Minister’s residence last August 14th, Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Suzuki Seiji who heads the ‘Special Investigation Team on Japanese abductees to North Korea’ initiated an official investigation on North Korean Authorities to combat the issue of counterfeit cigarettes.
A Japanese Newspaper ‘Mainichi’ (Daily News) reported that North Korea had been shipping large scale counterfeits of Japan’s leading cigarette brand ‘Mild Seven’ throughout China and South-East Asia in order to produce greater foreign currency.
The investigation by the ‘Special Investigation Team’ will focus on cracking whether or not North Korean authorities partook in the trafficking. On release of results, explicit countermeasures will be taken by the police, financial affairs, agriculture and fisheries and other ministries.
Last July 31st, Vice Minister Suzuki said at a ‘Special Investigation Team’ meeting that “There is a high possibility that North Korea is distributing ‘counterfeit cigarettes’ to foreign countries” and that severe measures will be taken.
The Japanese government argues that the flow of illegal foreign currency made through sales from fake cigarettes needs to be stopped if not at least for the persecution occurring in North Korea, and for the past few months has been pressurizing governments to take action.
A Japanese tobacco industry announced that masses of fake Mild Seven cigarettes were known to be circulating throughout China, North Korea and districts around the boarder. However, there is not yet confirmation that fake cigarettes are circulating in Japan.
Last May, the Japanese Maritime Bureau confirmed that a foreign vessel was found to be transporting fake Japanese cigarettes made in North Korea to South Korea and Taiwan. According to an U.S. press report the amount of fake cigarettes manufactured in North Korea and smuggled out of the country reaches $80-160 mn every year.