Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. is the only news agency providing information of progressive, democratic movements in Japan

U.S. beef imports will be resumed

In disregard of strong opposition from both consumers and experts, the government on December 12 decided to lift the ban on U.S. and Canadian beef imports, a ban that had been imposed since 2003 following the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Imports of processed meat products and minced meat will remain prohibited.

North American beef will be back in Japan by the end of this year at the earliest only on condition that risky parts are removed from beef of cattle 20 months and younger.

The government, however, has no effective measures to force the United States to comply with this condition. It even allows the United States to skip the individual coding system that Japan and European countries are using to determine the accurate age of cattle. Concerning labeling of origins of meat, the government requires the food-service industry to just make voluntary rules.

Commenting on the same day on the government decision, Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi said, "Lifting the ban on North American beef imports shows that the Koizumi government puts priority on the Japan-U.S. alliance over food safety."

Ichida pointed out, "Unlike Japan, the United States does not have a traceability system to determine when the cow was born. As long as it only checks the eyes to see if it is 20-months-old or younger, it is impossible to know the exact age of the cow."

Concerning removal of risky parts, including the brain and spinal cord, "Experts still question the effectiveness," said Ichida and criticized the government decision for putting the lives of the Japanese public in the U.S. hands.
- Akahata, December 13, 2005

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