China moves closer to resuming imports of Japanese beef


Tokyo and Beijing have concluded an agreement on animal health and quarantine, taking a key step toward the resumption of Japanese beef exports to China that have been halted since 2001.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, welcomed the agreement at a meeting Monday in Tokyo.

“I strongly hope that Chinese people will enjoy delicious Japanese farm products even more,” Motegi said during a joint news conference after the meeting.

The agreement is designed to facilitate safe trade in animals and animal-derived foods through closer cooperation on cross-border controls against animal diseases. It was signed by Ambassador to China Yutaka Yokoi and China’s ambassador to Japan, Kong Xuanyou, before the foreign ministers met.

China placed the import ban on Japanese beef after the outbreak of mad cow disease, formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, in Japan in September 2001.

The two countries see the agreement as an important step toward the resumption of Japanese beef exports, with details to be worked out later.

During the ministerial talks, the first since they met in New York in September, Motegi expressed to Wang concerns over the Hong Kong situation.

According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Wang reiterated China’s position that Hong Kong is an internal matter for China.

The two ministers confirmed their intention to seek an early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership by 16 nations, including Japan, China and India.

Before meeting Motegi, Wang held talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe said Tokyo hopes to make the state visit to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping next spring “a meaningful one fit for the new era” of Japan-China relations.

Wang said a three-way summit among Japan, China and South Korea slated next month in China will be an important opportunity for high-level interactions between China and Japan.

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