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Japan rebuffs U.S. requests for early talks on U.S. beef

Japan rebuffs U.S. requests for early talks on U.S. beef

The Japanese government has rejected a U.S. request for early talks about easing restrictions on American beef imports, an official said Thursday.
"We are not in a stage to accept consultations toward reviewing the trade conditions for now," Yoshio Kobayashi, vice minister of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, said in a statement on the ministry's Web site.
Kobayashi said it was too early to enter talks with the United States as Japan's verification of U.S. beef exporting conditions had not been completed. He did not indicated when the verification would be finished.
The minister's comments were in response to a letter from the U.S. urging Japan to ease its import conditions, the ministry said. A letter stating Tokyo's position was sent to Washington on Wednesday, it added.
After meeting U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in Washington earlier this month, Japan's Agriculture Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka said Japan was still conducting "deliberations" on the safety of U.S. beef. Japan must also conduct an audit of American beef plants, study the results and make the information available to the public.
Japan banned U.S. beef imports for 2 1/2 years because of fears about mad cow disease. Tokyo eased an all-encompassing ban in July 2006 but lingering trade restrictions have allowed only a trickle of U.S. beef back into the country.
Japan currently allows only boneless meat from cows aged 20 months or younger, because infection from mad cow disease is only known to occur in older cows. Tokyo also limits imports to beef that has been through stringent checks at selected U.S. meat processing plants.
U.S. officials want Japan to raise the age restriction to 30 months, in line with standards set by the World Organization for Animal Health.
Japan, once the United States' most lucrative overseas market for beef, bought US$1.4 billion worth of beef in 2003 before the first case of mad cow disease was found in a U.S. herd.
Japan was once the United States' most lucrative overseas market for beef, buying 200,000 tons worth US$1.4 billion (


Updated : 2021-06-23 10:25 GMT+08:00