Senior members of the opposition parties demanded Friday that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi remove farm minister Tsutomu Takebe from office for his recent comment indicating his reluctance to look into the source of mad cow disease.

Takebe reportedly said in a meeting with farmers in Hokkaido that he was not sure whether it is important to clarify how the three cows that tested positive for the disease became infected. He also said that consumers were reacting “emotionally” to the case.

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