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Japan's New Leaders Seen Tougher on US Beef

02 September 2009

US - Japan's new leadership may be less agreeable to expanding imports of US beef, which fell dramatically after mad cow was reported in the US nearly six years ago, than the previous administration, US meat industry sources said.

Forbes reports industry sources as saying that Japan was once the top export market for US beef but that business dropped sharply after December 2003, when the United States reported its first case of mad cow disease. Now Japan buys about one-fifth of its previous high volume but the US meat industry has been working to recover more of that lost business.

The newly elected Democratic Party in Japan may be less agreeable to that effort than previous leaders, the sources said.

"There is certainly a concern that there are hard-line elements in the new ruling party that will be resistant to expanded beef access. How that translates into policy remains to be seen," Joe Schuele, spokesman for the US Meat Export Federation, told Reuters, according to the Forbes report.



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