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Japan: Government decides to resume U.S. beef imports
The government on July 27 decided to resume U.S. beef imports even though it had discovered a series of U.S failures to comply with standards it had set for the resumption.
A government on-site inspection team discovered that 5.5 tons of U.S. beef which did not meet the Japanese requirements had been shipped to Japan. It also found out that 14 U.S. meatpacking facilities had failed to comply with the standards.
Japanese Communist Party Policy Commission Chair Koike Akira published the following statement on the same day:
The government's decision is nothing but a refusal to fulfill its responsibility to protect food safety by bowing to the U.S. demand, and must not be condoned.
The government has insisted that its prior inspections on U.S. beef processing facilities will make them satisfy conditions for resumption of U.S. beef imports. However, the inspection report shows those facilities' sloppy management, such as the failure to take spinal cord completely out of meat.
According to U.S. "noncompliance records" obtained in the U.S. by a JCP investigation team, more than 1,000 "noncompliance" cases were found in just 16 months at the U.S. meatpacking facilities. Yoshikawa Yasuhiro, chair of the Cabinet Food Safety Commission's prion panel, pointed out that the government inspections were perfunctorily conducted and suspected that U.S. structural problems are the basis for the repeatedly committed "noncompliance" cases.
We have also found out that some U.S. meatpacking facilities have been repeatedly exporting beef to Japan without authorization by the U.S. government. It is more clear than ever that the U.S. BSE measures are unreliable.
The U.S. government has failed to conduct tests on all cattle, require the removal of specific risk materials, ban production and use of meat-and-bone meal, and establish a traceability system. Those measures are all taken already in Japan, and Japanese experts and consumers have expressed strong distrust and doubts. Despite this, the government forcibly decided to lift the ban on U.S. beef imports without any explanation to the public.
The JCP again demands that the government require the U.S. to take the same BSE measures as Japan and immediately have Diet discussions on the issue.
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