Farmers call for full-fledged safeguards

The term of temporary safeguards to curb imports of three agricultural products, including green onions and shiitake mushrooms expired on November 8, but the Japanese government is still reluctant to fully invoke this system.

In protest against the government's weak-kneed policy, members of the Liaison Council to Secure People's Food and Health carried out street actions in the Ginza area of Tokyo. Saying "The Koizumi cabinet must fully invoke safeguards now," they collected 300 signatories in an hour.

Shiitake and Welsh onion farmers visited the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry insisting that the government must invoke the safeguard immediately.

"Sukiyaki and other pan cooks are seasonal in Japan, but we are anxious about the safety of many vegetables from abroad," said a housewife.

Nagasawa Hisashi, Gunma Prefectural Association of the National Federation of Farmers Movement, said, "Shiitake is in-season now, but its price has dropped from 1,500-1,800 yen to less than 1,000 yen per kilogram. If the government doesn't exercise the safeguard, it will mean that we will have to give up farming. We'll make every effort to get full safeguards invoked." (end)