Farmers organizations demand urgent compensation for BSE-related losses

The National Campaign for the Defense of the People's Food and Health
(Shokkenren) on December 4 organized a concerted action in Tokyo calling for
appropriate government measures to save the declining Japanese agriculture
sector and ensure the safety of food and a stable food supply.

Participants in the action called "Green Wave 2001" converged on the
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries building and blamed Prime
Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro for being reluctant to invoke safeguards to
protect Japan's vegetable production.

Later in the day, campaign participants made representations to the
government, demanding that the government take responsibility and compensate
for the damage caused by the mad cow disease (BSE).

Even now, three months after the first BSE-infected cow was found in
Chiba Prefecture and all of the breeder's cows were killed, the ministry
hasn't compensated him for the loss. "Why has the government done nothing?"
the participants protested.

Shokkenren has collected more than 80,000 signatures calling for
emergency measures to deal with BSE and invocation of safeguards. The
petition has been signed by 58 municipal heads and 101 agricultural
cooperative presidents.

In the Diet, Nakabayashi Yoshiko of the Japanese Communist Party in the
House of Representatives Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Committee
meeting on December 5 argued that the cause of the BSE outbreak in Japan was
that the government took the WTO recommendation too lightly.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Takebe Tsuyoshi conceded
that what Nakabayashi argued was true and said that the government should
have legally banned the use of meat-and-bone meal.

A meeting of all parties' Diet policy commission chairs was held on the
day and the opposition parties proposed that the Diet adopt a resolution
calling on the government to take the best possible measures to deal with
the BSE question and that even after the Diet is recessed the committee
continue discussing the issue. The ruling parties didn't accept this
proposal. (end)