Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is expected to discuss the issue of how Japan would lift its import ban on U.S. beef at a meeting later this month with President George W. Bush, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda indicated Tuesday.
Asked at a press conference if the issue will be on the agenda at their summit slated for Sept. 21 in New York, Hosoda said, “I think various issues of concern will be discussed on such an occasion.”
The comments followed Monday’s recommendation by a panel under the Food Safety Commission that the government should shift its stance on testing for mad cow disease in a manner that will probably pave the way for resuming U.S. beef imports.
Japan banned beef imports from the United States after the first case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was found there last December.
The panel effectively called on the government to exclude beef cattle aged 20 months or younger from testing for the brain-wasting disease in an about-face from the country’s blanket testing regime.
If the commission endorses the proposal, the government will start deliberations on ending the blanket testing, which has been in place since October 2001, signaling a resumption of U.S. beef imports.
The commission is expected to decide on the matter Thursday, Hosoda said.
Koizumi is scheduled to meet with Bush on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session in New York as part of his 11-day tour starting Monday. He will also travel to Brazil and Mexico before arriving in New York on Sept. 18.
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