Pressure grows to lift US beef ban

The Daily Yomiuri has an update on the US/Japan beef issue. Japan still does not allow imports of American beef, due to concerns about mad cow disease:

An increasing number of officials at the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry think the government should comply with the U.S. request soon. The government plans to inspect U.S. facilities where beef for export to Japan is to be processed after the U.S. government submits its own inspection results. But since it will take more than a month to inspect all 37 facilities, ministry officials intend to consider resuming imports in stages, starting with products processed at facilities where safety has been confirmed.

Government officials in favor of resuming imports intend to proceed with the resumption plan, even if only a partial resumption, before a summit meeting of the two nations scheduled for June so as not to give the impression of giving into U.S. pressure, the sources said.

Some government officials are more cautious due to consumer concern over the safety of U.S. beef and public criticism that it was too early to lift the initial ban in December. These officials say the ban should not be lifted until Japanese inspectors are stationed in the United States.

At 10 meetings the government held in Tokyo, Osaka and other places, a number of consumers said they were not satisfied with the credibility of U.S. inspections and called for stricter measures to prevent the recurrence of risk materials being imported.

American been is also banned by the 25 member countries of the European Union, due to concerns about the use of growth hormones. South Korea banned imports at the same time as Japan, and is also considering reopening its market after inspections. Taiwan and Hong Kong reopened their markets in 2005.


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