I read this this morning and thought I would pass it along.
Read the article and let me know what your thoughts are.
* Is Japan being too harsh with their beef ban?
* Are we asking too much for Japan to lift the ban?
Japan says it has no plans to ease US beef restrictions
(AFP) – 2 days ago
TOKYO — Japan said Tuesday it has no plans to ease long-standing trade restrictions on US beef imposed over mad cow disease, two days before talks in Tokyo between the two on the issue.
US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was travelling to Japan Tuesday for a four-day visit in a renewed attempt to settle the long-running dispute that has created friction between the allies.
But Japan's Agriculture Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu said he "has no plan to ask the government's food safety commission to review US beef", even if Vilsack demands it during their meeting scheduled for Thursday.
"Asking for a review by the food safety panel would mean Japan was heading in the direction of changing its trade restriction," Akamatsu told a news conference. "Honestly speaking, I don't expect to do so."
Japan, which used to be the largest importer of US beef, stopped the imports after mad cow disease was detected in an American herd in late 2003 and has only resumed limited imports since then.
As the ban threatened to turn into a trade war, with US farm state senators seeking sanctions, Tokyo agreed in 2006 to resume US imports from cattle under 20 months, except for high-risk parts such as brains and spine bones.
Japan's US beef imports now stand at only around 10 percent of their former peak, while Australia has become the biggest beef importer.
US farm state senators have again accused Tokyo of being too rigid on its beef ban which continues even though no new cases of the brain-wasting cattle disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy have been detected in years.