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Drug-sniffing dog makes debut at western Japan's Kansai Airport

Handler Shoichiro Takase is seen with drug-sniffing dog Keito at the Kansai International Airport handling center for narcotics detection dogs in this recent photo. (Mainichi/Yasutoshi Tsurumi)

IZUMISANO, Osaka -- A drug-sniffing dog made its debut at Kansai International Airport on Feb. 3 -- the latest addition to a line of canines that have helped find over 4 tons of illegal substances in Japan over the decades.

Keito, a black male Labrador retriever aged 1 year, 10 months, passed a test on Jan. 31 to begin working at the western Japan airport, after being trained at a center near Narita International Airport east of Tokyo from September 2019.

Handling Keito is 24-year-old Shoichiro Takase. During a recent training session simulating the import of illegal drugs, Keito pinpointed a suspicious suitcase and sat in front of it, giving his handler a sign.

"Good boy," Takase said as he stroked his canine partner's head.

"I want our duo -- Keito, who checks out anything with a great deal of curiosity, and without any fear, and me, with my cautious personality -- to do our best," Takase said.

Statistics for 2019 are expected to show that over 2 metric tons of illegal drugs were seized across the country during the year. Between 1979, when drug-sniffing dogs were introduced in Japan, and the end of 2018, narcotics detection dogs have sniffed out some 4.1 tons of illegal substances across Japan.

(Japanese original by Yasutoshi Tsurumi, Izumisano Resident Bureau)

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