Protection of Intellectual Property and recovery from East Japan disaster
Sendai, 30 September 2011
At the invitation of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Secretary General of the WCO Kunio Mikuriya spoke at the International Symposium on the Global Perspective of Intellectual Property Strategy and Recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster that was held in Sendai, Japan on 30 September 2011 together with other government representatives. Sendai is the economic centre of the region affected by the earthquake and tsunami disaster on 11 March 2011.
The Mayor of Sendai welcomed participants and explained that apart from the coastline that was badly hit by the tsunami, the town is recovering quickly and is promoting more foreign visitors and trade. She said that innovation and the knowledge-based society concept would be the main source of further recovery and saw the recently concluded Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) as a basis for protecting intellectual property.
Secretary General Mikuriya explained the role of Customs and the action the WCO had taken to assist recovery from natural disasters. He then briefed the audience on WCO efforts to protect intellectual property:
· To raise the awareness of consumers, the WCO and INTERPOL had recently organized an international operation whereby Customs seized a huge number of fake medicines derived from internet commerce at the border and that the police had pursued the criminals behind this trade.
· To enhance partnerships with rights holders and improve Customs' capacity to identify IPR infringements, the WCO had developed an online training and information-sharing tool called IPM (Interface Public-Members).
· To ensure that Customs was in possession of current best practices, including those related to the legal framework, based on Members needs, the WCO continues to monitor existing legal systems, including the provisions contained in ACTA.
After the symposium participants visited Sendai Airport to hear how the airport recovered from a three meter high tsunami on 11 March 2011 that put the ground floor of the airport building under water for 4 days. Customs joined the quick recovery plan and reopened in June to receive the first international flight. At Sendai Seaport, the first foreign cargo ship arrived a few days ago after the infrastructure had been restored.
On 1 October Secretary General Mikuriya participated in a signing ceremony where eight countries signed ACTA in Tokyo. He met the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Koichiro Gemba, and the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Yukio Edano, as well as Ministers from participating countries.
Separately, the Secretary General met the Minister of Finance, Jun Azumi, who expressed his support for the WCO given the importance of Customs. He also met the Chairman of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), Hiromasa Yonekura,
who appreciated recent WCO activities to strengthen Customs-business partnerships around the world.