Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato expects markets will be reopened. However, Senate Ag Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss says Kato sees that process taking a minimum of another four months.
"They've had this issue before them for about a year now," Chambliss explains. "They've known all the facts that we know today for several months and failed to react positively." Chambliss joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday requiring the U.S. Department of Treasury to implement additional tariffs on goods grown, produced or manufactured in Japan unless the U.S. Trade Representative certifies that Japan has reopened its market to American beef by December 15, 2005.
In a letter Kato sent to Chambliss, he explained that Japan's Food Safety Commission will once again try to finalize the draft document at its next meeting, expected to be held next week. However, once the scientific evaluation has been made, the U.S. import of beef will resume only upon completion of the following procedural steps Kato points out:
- The FSC will decide at its immediate next plenary session to put that conclusion to a public comment procedure of four weeks.
- The FSC will consider comments by the public for a week.
- The FSC will officially adopt the conclusion of the Committee and report to the
- Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Ministry or Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
- The Ministries will hold several explanations sessions to the public as necessary.
- The Japanese Government and the U.S. Government will officially reconfirm the conditions that are included in the Joint Press Statement of October 23, 2004.
- The Japanese Government will notify the conditions to its quarantine and animal quarantine offices, importers and other persons concerned.
"Despite the efforts of even the highest office in our nation's government, Japan continues to keep American beef out of their country," says Kansan Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, a co-sponsor of the bill. "This week, the Japanese Food Safety Commission again failed to reach an agreement to remove the blockade to U.S. beef imports. And to add insult to injury, four of the Commission's twelve members did not even show up. I am troubled that our negotiations with Japan have deteriorated to this point."
"I, for one, have lost patience with the obvious foot-dragging of the Japanese bureaucracy," Chambliss says. "The Japanese government agrees that U.S. beef is safe. They have said U.S. beef is safe, and they've said it publicly. Now they need to stop delaying and normalize trade in beef and beef products on the basis of their own scientific determination."