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NEW JAPANESE AG MINISTER REITERATES GOVERNMENT'S POLICY ON U.S. BEEF
CattleNetwork.com reports:

The latest installment in Japan's agriculture ministry's top post said political pressure from the United States won't persuade Tokyo to change its current policy on U.S. beef imports.

Agriculture Minister Masatoshi Wakabayashi, who on Tuesday became Japan's fifth farm chief this year when new Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda selected his cabinet, reiterated his government's stance after Acting U.S. Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner called on Tokyo to raise its age limit on U.S. beef imports.

"If the U.S. uses political pressure to solve [the issue], that would be in vain," the 73-year-old Wakabayashi told reporters at a news conference, adding that Japan would only base its decision on scientific facts, Reuters reported.

Japanese officials have been reviewing data supplied by Washington to decide whether U.S. beef from cattle of all ages is safe - the same data the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reviewed before deeming the United States a "controlled-risk" region for bovine spongiform encephalopathy in May.


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