Japan to Insist all US Beef Be Checked - Minister
Senior Japanese and U.S. officials will meet in Tokyo on the weekend to discuss how to normalize beef trade between the two countries, suspended by Japan after the discovery of a single case of mad cow disease in Washington state in December.
"It is important not to harm the confidence of consumers," Kamei told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.
"With regards to imported U.S. beef, the measures equivalent to those conducted in domestic beef need to be applied."
Japan, which has had several cases of the brain-wasting disease - formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) - tests all cattle destined for market.
So far, Washington has refused Tokyo's demand that all cattle be tested, saying there is no scientific justification for such a costly measure.
Senior Japanese officials from the foreign ministry, agriculture ministry and health ministry will meet with a U.S. delegation led by Agriculture Undersecretary J.B. Penn.
Kamei said the specific agenda for the meeting had not been decided, but both the United States and Japan were expected to exchange ideas on how to resolve the situation.
Japan is normally the top buyer of U.S. beef and the four-month ban has halted purchases that last year amounted to nearly $1.4 billion.
The USDA reiterated this week that it would stand by its decision to prohibit Kansas-based meat packer Creekstone Farms Premium Beef from independently testing for mad cow disease so it could resume sales to Japan.