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In accordance with the treaties of commerce, the first customhouses were established at the ports of Hakodate, Nagasaki, Yokohama, Hyogo, Osaka and Niigata, which were opened to international trade. Following the opening of the country, the Meiji government undertook a firm policy of modernization. After the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars, foreign trade expanded rapidly. Furthermore, the conclusion of a "Treaty of Commerce and Navigation" with the United Kingdom in 1894 spurred the revision of unequal commerce treaties with other countries. The long-desired autonomy, in respect to Customs duties, was completely restored in 1911. Under these circumstances, the Customs system was gradually consolidated.

Today's Japanese territory is divided into nine areas: Hakodate, Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Moji, Nagasaki, and Okinawa. The number of Customs officials in 2009 was 8,713.

There is one Customhouse (headquarters), and several branch and sub-branch offices and guard posts in each area. The Director-General of Customs usually delegates most of his power to the branch office chiefs.

Except for Okinawa, each Customhouse has four Divisions (Coordination, Enforcement, Customs Clearance, and Post Clearance Audit, Investigation and Intelligence).

In order to delegate part of Customs services (including Okinawa Regional Customs; hereinafter the same), branches, sub-branches and guard posts are established in certain locations.

There are 68 Customs branch offices throughout the nation as of July 2009. This facilitates Customs services in areas remote from the Customs Headquarters in each of the jurisdictions.

Customs branch offices are further subdivided into sub-branches in areas where there is relatively heavy demand for Customs services. While the Customs Directors have delegated greater authority to the directors of Customs branches than to sub-Customs branches of branches, the latter effectively have the same authority as the former today. This upgrades the convenience and efficiency of services.

The difference between sub-branches of Customs and sub-branches of Customs branches is determined by whether the location and jurisdictional area belong directly to Customhouses or to branches. There is no substantial difference between them.

As of July 2009, there are 117 sub-branches of Customs and of Customs branches.

There are 10 Customs guard posts throughout Japan as of July 2009. Their purpose is to guard and control entries of ships, delivery and/or receipt, loading and unloading of cargo in closed ports.

Since demand for Customs services has increased in areas near Customs guard posts, most of the guard posts are engaged in Customs clearance work in addition to the surveillance and control work.

The central Customs administration is the Customs and Tariff Bureau, which is an internal bureau of Japan's Ministry of Finance.

The Customs and Tariff Bureau is headed by the Director-General, who is assisted by two Deputy Directors-General. Under them are six divisions and four offices with various responsibilities (Information Management Office, Office of Inspection of the Customhouses, Customs Administration Research Office, and Office of Economic Partnership), and two Counselors. The directors of these divisions and offices and the counselors deal with all matters relating to Customs administration and tariff policy. The bureau has a staff of 176 (as of fiscal 2009).

The main responsibilities of the Customs and Tariff Bureau are as follows:

matters relating to the research and planning of Customs duties, tonnage dues, special tonnage dues, and other Customs administration (including agreements on Customs duties with other countries);

matters relating to the imposition and collection of Customs duties and other taxes such as tonnage tax and special tonnage tax, and consumption tax imposed on international freight;

matters relating to the surveillance and control of exporting and importing goods, vessels, aircraft, and passengers in accordance with the provisions of customs related laws and regulations;

matters relating to the operation of Customs areas;

matters relating to supervision of Customhouse brokers and, registered Customhouse specialists;

matters relating to the process of sea and air cargo by Nippon Automated Cargo And Port Consolidated System (NACCS);

matters relating to trade statistics;

matters relating to education and training of Customs officers; and

matters relating to general support for the Tariff Branch of the Council on Customs, Tariff, Foreign Exchange and Other Transactions.



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