September 9, 2005


Itoham admits role in pork import scam (Japan Times, 9/10/05)

Major meat processor Itoham Foods Inc. admitted Friday to being involved in a meat importer's evasion of some 940 million yen in customs duties on pork imported from Europe in 2002 and 2003 as the firm's fraud trial opened before the Tokyo District Court.

Prosecutors said in a statement that Itoham President Masami Ito claimed while being interrogated that about 80 percent of pork imported to Japan evades customs duties.

A 54-year-old former employee at Itoham, whose name has been withheld, also claimed the company would have lost out to rival companies unless it handled the "dark pork," meaning pork imported without paying tariffs, the prosecutors said.

That's not kosher.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 9, 2005 8:09 PM

Why does a nation that must import almost all of its resources have import duties?

Posted by: Randall Voth at September 10, 2005 2:46 AM

They're preferable to taxes.

Posted by: oj at September 10, 2005 7:11 AM

You mean politically or economically? We're talking raw materials that will be processed in Japan. It'd be like the U.S. taxing oil imports.

Posted by: Randall Voth at September 10, 2005 8:16 AM


Yes, we should.

Posted by: oj at September 10, 2005 8:30 AM

Wasn't there a Senator once who complained that there was too much "consumin' goin' on" ?

Are you talking "sin" taxes or taxes in general? (I mean with the goal of reducing oil consumption... somehow I doubt the goal of the Japanese tax on pork is to reduce food consumption.)

Posted by: Randall Voth at September 10, 2005 8:37 AM


The Republican Party was built on tariffs, so there's a long tradition not unlike Japan's.

Sin taxes should be punitive, but consupmtion taxes in general are preferable.

Posted by: oj at September 10, 2005 8:41 AM

So why are you praising G.W. Bush as a conservative for cutting taxes and forging free trade agreements? (Or have I gotten that all wrong?)

Posted by: Randall Voth at September 10, 2005 8:44 AM

The classic conservative position is tariffs, a la Pat Buchanan.

It was the Reagan Revolution that made it a free trade party.

That both tariffs and trade are legitimately conservative positions suggests how silly arguments over who's conservative and who isn't are.

Personally, I believe we should remove all our own trade barriers except with the remaining communist regime and should switch from income to consumption taxes.

Posted by: oj at September 10, 2005 8:51 AM

I have always felt the same way about taxing consumption versus income. (Mostly because income taxes punish the savers versus the consumers... but that is because I am a saver.)

The only problem I see with consumption tax is that it encourages black and gray market activity. Obviously, the goal is a stable and consistent form of taxation that gets rid of the energy currently consumed jumping through loopholes.

But a major benefit of a consumption tax only (and that is the key: only -- the income tax would need to be repealed for this to work) is that exports would be tax free and more competitive. Also, it makes private companies into tax collectors, reducing the government bureaucracy.

It still does not explain why the Japanese tax pork imports. I mean, why make food artificially expensive?

Posted by: Randall Voth at September 10, 2005 9:07 AM

It's not America. Pork is a luxury item. :)

Most countries do idiotic things to proitect their own farmers.

Posted by: oj at September 10, 2005 9:12 AM

Randall: The explicit policy of the United States government is to make food more expensive. It's good for the farmers, you know.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 10, 2005 9:53 AM

While a consumption tax can lead to gray and black markets, it would capture income that currently goes untaxed like drug money, illegal gambling, prostitution and tips not declared as income. I'm guessing but I believe that taxes from undeclared income would more than make up for losses due to gray and black markets.

Posted by: Patrick H at September 10, 2005 11:33 AM

Seeing how Asians countries slap an embargo on US beef every time there's a Mad Cow scare, I wonder how much of the beef that's getting to them is really inspected, and is really beef.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 10, 2005 4:20 PM