My birthday was at the end of last month, and I received an interesting package in the mail. My parents sent me a box for my big day, which is very nice of them. Surely they stuffed it with all sorts of delightful things. Also included was some sort of sausage. So instead of getting any actual present, I got a packet from the (deep breath) Animal Quarantine Service Tokyo Sub Branch of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (phew).
Its so official I can hardly stand it. The main letter has had no fewer than four rubber stamps applied to it. Several quotes from the Domestic Animal Infectious Diseases Control Law are cited, and dates/serial numbers abound. So my choices are two: either send the whole lot of it back from whence it came or "to destroy only quarantinable articles by fire" after which the remaining goods will be forwarded to me. One of my friends quipped that the incineration of my meat products would probably be done by office party barbecue.
According to the enclosed little booklet, featuring happy cartoon people with a hoard of meats boarding a plane, I can ship meat from the US to Japan but I need a USDA inspection certificate. Bah.
Despite the hassle, I must congratulate the Japanese bureaucracy on a job well done in this particular case. A stamped and addressed envelope was provided along with a fairly simple check box sheet that I need to mail back to them. Just about all of the information provided is written in Japanese and comprehensible English, which can be a rarity with government dealings. Thumbs up. Now I just have to wait for my package, minus any delicious meats.