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The government should temporarily curb soaring farm product imports from China before it concludes a survey of their impact on the domestic market, Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshio Yatsu said Friday.

Yatsu told a news conference that he wants the Agriculture, Finance and Trade ministries, which have been jointly conducting the survey since December, to agree on temporary restrictions as early as next week.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma told a separate news conference that his ministry has not yet received a request from the Agriculture Ministry for temporary curbs to be introduced on vegetable imports. If such a request comes, the Trade Ministry will consider it, Hiranuma said.

The three ministries have been exploring the possibility of invoking emergency “safeguard” import restrictions on three farm products — stone leeks, shiitake mushrooms and rushes for use in tatami mats. They are expected to decide on measures in May.

Under World Trade Organization rules, Japan would be able to resort to import restrictions, including temporary measures mentioned by Yatsu, if it were to prove that Chinese exports were hurting its agricultural industry.

The Liberal Democratic Party’s Research Commission on Comprehensive Agriculture also decided Friday to urge the government to invoke temporary curbs on the three farm products.

Government estimates show that imports of leeks rocketed in fiscal 1999 to 9.1 times the amount imported in fiscal 1997, imports of shiitake were 1.6 times higher in 2000 from 1997 and rushes were up 2.4 times in the same period.

Most of the imports come from China.

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