LONDON - The Japanese and Irish governments have reached a broad agreement on the lifting of Japan’s 18-year-old ban on imports of sheep meat from Ireland, Irish agriculture minister Michael Creed said on Twitter on Wednesday.
The accord came after Japan resumed imports of Irish beef only last month.
“Sheepmeat Access to Japan agreed!” Creed tweeted after holding separate meetings with Japanese Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Takamori Yoshikawa and Masayoshi Shintani, parliamentary vice minister of health, labor and welfare, in Tokyo on Wednesday.
The Japanese government imposed the embargo on Irish sheep meat in 2001, in the wake of outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.
As conditions for lifting the import ban, the Japanese government demanded Ireland improve the traceability of Irish sheep meat, according to officials of an Irish farm group.
In his Twitter post, Creed described the broad accord with Japan as “an early win for Team Ireland in Japan,” in a reference to the Rugby World Cup 2019 — set to kick off in Japan 100 days later.