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Taiwan customs only let this guy through with 30 of his 200 Japanese toys

Taiwan customs officials put the saddest frown in the world on one man's face when they took away 170 of the 200 capsule toys he had bought from vending machines in Japan.

The man, surnamed Chung, was coming home from a vacation in Okinawa when authorities stopped him at the airport for carrying the 200 capsule toys.

Chung said the total value of all his toys was only NT$17,000 and that by law, only goods worth over NT$20,000 must be declared.

He insisted that the toys, purchased from the iconic Japanese coin-operated machines called gashapon, were not meant for resale but for his personal enjoyment.

Though the condition of the toys -- which were already unwrapped -- appeared to corroborate his claim, customs confiscated them anyway for inspection, only to return them days later fully intact.

The Economics Ministry's Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection said the confiscated toys were returned to their owner because they had passed inspection.

Hsieh Ling-yuan (謝鈴媛), deputy director-general of the Customs Administration, said Thursday that the value of Chung's toys indeed did not exceed NT$20,000, but that only meant they did not need to be reported for tariff purposes.

By law, his toys could be confiscated by customs and held for inspection to ensure that they met national safety, health and environmental protection standards and other technical regulations, she said.

Take Note, Travelers

A traveler importing toys to Taiwan for personal use could lose them at customs if carrying more than five of any toy that is worth less than US$1,000 each.

If a traveler has more than one toy worth US$1,000 or more, the toys could also be taken away for inspection, according to the Regulations Governing Exemption from Inspection of Commodities (商品免驗辦法).

Goods are held for inspection and returned if they pass. If they don't, they are returned to the source or destroyed.

Other goods that are flagged at Taiwan's border include beef jerky, vacuum-sealed meat products and any more than 200 cigarettes, more than 25 cigars or more than a pound of cut tobacco.

An unlimited number of electrical appliances can be imported for personal use if all of them are worth less than US$1,000 each. If an appliance is worth US$1,000 or more, only two are permitted.

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