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Cheney pressures Japan over beef imports

Under pressure from U.S. lawmakers, Vice President Dick Cheney raised the thorny issue of Japan’s ban on U.S. beef in talks in Tokyo on Monday, U.S. officials said.
/ Source: Reuters

Under pressure from U.S. lawmakers, Vice President Dick Cheney raised the thorny issue of Japan’s ban on U.S. beef in talks in Tokyo on Monday, U.S. officials said.

Japan imposed the ban because of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease.

“The vice president raised the issue of beef imports with senior Japanese officials,” including Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, said Cheney spokesman Kevin Kellems.

“That conversation continues,” he added.

Japan usually accounts for 40 percent of U.S. beef exports, buying more than $1 billion a year in beef, veal and variety meats. As a step to restoring trade, Japan wants the United States to test all slaughter cattle for mad cow.

But U.S. officials say testing of all slaughter cattle is unnecessary because mad cow disease attacks older animals. They say U.S. beef safety is assured through a ban on feeding animal parts to cattle and a requirement for meatpackers to remove brains, spinal cords and other “specified risk materials” from carcasses.