Agriculture minister Taku Eto stressed the safety of wagyu beef during a visit with Beijing’s top diplomat in Japan to a cutting-edge meat-processing plant with stringent hygiene controls on Wednesday, as Tokyo hopes to resume exports of the Japanese specialty to China at an early date.

Eto toured the plant run by the meat-processing company Miyachiku in the town of Tsuno, Miyazaki Prefecture, with Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou. The facility, which started operations in April, has acquired an international hygiene control certification, allowing beef exports to the United States and the European Union.

After inspecting the meat-processing room and storeroom, Kong praised the facility and said that he will make sincere efforts so that Japanese farm products, including Miyazaki beef, will reach dining tables in China.

China currently bans beef imports from Japan due to concerns over mad cow disease. Tokyo and Beijing signed an agreement last month on animal health and quarantine issues, meeting one of the conditions for Beijing to lift the ban. China is expected to resume imports of Japanese beef after necessary conditions are met and related meat-processing facilities are certified.

Eto said he hopes the visit will help accelerate China’s procedures to resume beef imports from Japan.

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