Asada Nosan chief issues apology over bird flu fiasco at Kyoto farm

Kyodo

An apology was issued Tuesday by the president of the firm running a Kyoto Prefecture chicken farm where bird flu broke out and thousands of fowl died over a week’s time before authorities learned of the outbreak from an anonymous tip.

Hideaki Asada, 41, president of Asada Nosan, the operator of the Funai farm in Tanba, Kyoto Prefecture, told reporters at the firm’s headquarters in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, that he was sorry for the problems the delay caused.

At the same time, however, he claimed that the farm’s plans to sell off all of its chickens to a processor was not related to the bird flu outbreak.

On Monday, a senior official at Arinobe, the Hyogo-based processor, revealed that Asada had told him around Feb. 23 that he wanted to unload the Tanba farm’s birds. Chickens had begun dying at the farm en masse Feb. 20, but it was not until Feb. 27 that authorities, acting on an anonymous telephone tip, went to the farm and tested the birds for avian flu, turning up positive results.

During Tuesday’s news conference, Asada admitted he asked Arinobe to buy the chickens, but he added his firm had been planning to scale back egg production since last summer due to falling prices and the plan was not a result of the bird flu outbreak.

He claimed he told Arinobe officials Feb. 26 that birds were dying by the thousands, and also offered to suspend the sale. However, Arinobe did not oppose the shipment, saying it had already reserved orders for the birds and that stopping the shipment would cause problems, according to Asada. The Japan Poultry Association said Tuesday it plans to fire Asada as its vice chairman and board member because the outbreak at the farm caused inconvenience for consumers and other producers.