U.S. increases pressure on Japan to lift ban on U.S. beef imports

The U.S. Bush administration is increasing its pressure on the Japanese government to lift its ban on U.S. beef imports after the House of Councilors election in July. The ban has been in place to protect against the mad cow disease (BSE).

Using a two-fold approach, the United States in the fourth Japan-U.S. talks on the BSE issue on April 24 brought direct pressure to bear on the Japanese government to arrange an agreement in August on the possible resumption of beef imports.

The United States is also trying to get international standards on animal diseases relaxed.

Akahata of May 3 criticized the United States for requesting that Japan lift the ban while persistently refusing to test all beef cattle and remove high-risk parts so that Japan will resume imports before the U.S. presidential election in November.

Consumer organizations are urging the government to put priority on food safety before trade factors. However, the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties refuse to discuss a bill jointly submitted by the Japanese Communist Party and other opposition parties. The opposition bill calls on beef exporting countries to produce traceable breeding records of beef cattle.

JCP House of Representative member Takahashi Chizuko said, "The ruling parties are weak-kneed toward U.S. interests and fail to insist on Japan's reliable safety standards regarding BSE." (end)

Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved.