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Farm minister Shoichi Nakagawa indicated Tuesday that Japan will not accept a request from the United States to meet in the fall to discuss easing its restrictions on U.S. beef imports.

“We cannot say ‘OK, let’s talk’ at the point when we are trying to get the public’s support for the resumption of U.S. beef imports,” Nakagawa told a news conference after a Cabinet meeting.

Tokyo lifted the U.S. beef ban last week. It had been reinstated in January over fears of mad cow disease.

Washington has asked Tokyo to hold talks in the fall about raising the age limit on cattle eligible to be butchered for export to Japan to 30 months.

Under the current terms, Japan-bound U.S. beef is limited to meat from cattle up to 20 months old, with brain, spinal cord and other material considered to be at higher risk of containing bovine spongiform encephalopathy removed. Testing for the disease is not required.

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