Japan urges U.S. to prevent recurrence of risky beef shipment+
(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TOKYO, Jan. 23_(Kyodo) _ Top Japanese government officials on Monday used the visit of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick to urge the United States to act promptly to find out why spinal columns banned under a bilateral agreement on beef exports to Japan were contained in a U.S. beef shipment to Japan last week, and ensure there is no recurrence.
Zoellick, who refused to comment to reporters after meeting separately with Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, was quoted by a Foreign Ministry official as expressing his deep regret over the incident.
Zoellick told Abe and Aso that it was an unacceptable mistake on the part of the United States and said the United States is obliged to fulfill its agreement with Japan, the official said. Japan considers spinal columns a risk for mad cow disease.
The incident came only a month after Japan resumed U.S. beef imports.
As part of measures to address the beef issue, Zoellick said the United States has begun investigating why a shipment of this kind was made and has removed the company involved from the list of beef exporters to Japan, according to the official.
Aso told reporters after his meeting with Zoellick that Zoellick took the initiative to apologize.
"It is obviously a mistake by the U.S. side. I expect that (the United States) will take the appropriate measures as soon as possible," Aso said.
Abe, who met Zoellick at the Prime Minister's Official Residence, told reporters afterward that he had asked the United States to compile a list of thorough measures to prevent a recurrence.
"Consumers in Japan will not buy U.S.-grown beef if (Washington) does not ease consumers' worry," the top Japanese government spokesman said.
Earlier in the day, Abe said in a news conference that the central government had instructed ministries and agencies that deal with Japan's importers to investigate whether any spinal columns or other risky parts have been found in other beef shipments, and report the results to the ministries and agencies.
The investigation will cover American-made beef imported into Japan from last month.
Japan halted all U.S. beef imports Friday due to the discovery of a cow backbone at Narita airport in a beef shipment imported by a Japanese trading company as a sample product.
Japanese officials have said imports will be suspended at least until the United States offers Japan a full explanation, but whether and how the trade will reopen after that has yet to be decided.
Japan had banned the import of U.S. beef in December 2003 due to the discovery of a cow infected with the brain-wasting disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, in the United States.
Tokyo lifted the ban last month on condition that the meat comes from cows aged 20 months or younger, and brains, spinal cords and other specified risk materials that could transmit BSE are removed.
BSE, which destroys brain tissue and gives it a sponge-like appearance, is believed to be caused by abnormal prions, a type of protein. These prions tend to accumulate in specific parts of cows, including the backbone.
[ Back To SIP Trunking Home's Homepage ]