Tactical pressure

Published: Sunday 15 January 2006

Japan recently lifted its ban on us beef imports, which was imposed due to threats of mad cow disease in the us cattle, in December 2003. Japan said beef from American cattle under 21 months old would be allowed back into the country, provided strict guidelines were adhered to by the us producers.

Japan would also resume its beef imports from Canada. However, the ban on beef from higher-risk older cattle will still remain. This ban repeal comes soon after Japan confirmed the 21st case of mad cow disease in the country.

The ban was a huge blow for the us as Japan is its most important beef export market. Following the ban, many restaurants in Japan had substituted pork for beef. Australian companies filled some of the gap in beef exports left by American industries. The ban, thus, erupted into a major trade dispute, with Washington threatening sanctions against Tokyo.

In a recent survey in Japan, around three-fourth of the respondents were unwilling to eat us beef because of mad cow fears, compared to 21.2 percent who were ready to eat it. People were also worried about the reliability of the us inspection measures.

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