France has honored Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Shoichi Nakagawa for his proactive role in farm negotiations under the World Trade Organization, making him the first Japanese to receive the highest award of Commandeur in the agricultural sector.

French Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Dominique Bussereau conferred the order on his Japanese counterpart Friday at the official residence of the French ambassador in Tokyo. Bussereau said Nakagawa “fully understands the French position in multilateral negotiations,” and Paris is honored to give the award to him.

In a speech after receiving the order, Nakagawa expressed hope that Japan and France will engage in the upcoming farm trade negotiations with the common recognition that food should be treated differently from other items, and that aspects other than commercial value should be taken into consideration.

Nakagawa also said that in mid-June, Japan is planning to lift its ban on imports of French poultry, including expensive foie gras. The embargo has been in place since late February over bird flu fears.

Expressing his gratitude, Bussereau said, “I hope Japanese consumers who have a dainty palate will eat French poultry to make up for the period when they could not enjoy French cuisine.”

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