Japan calls U.S. beef report `insufficient'

Japan's agriculture minister on Monday said a U.S. report on a mistaken shipment of veal was insufficient and left many questions unanswered, suggesting Washington would have to take further steps to reopen the Japanese market to U.S. beef.

Shoichi Nakagawa's comments came after a meeting Monday with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi as the government considers how it will go about renewing American beef imports amid fears of mad cow disease.

The shipments were frozen last month after finding a U.S. veal shipment containing prohibited backbone material. American officials repeatedly apologized and pledged to fully investigate the mishap and issue a report.

But Nakagawa said the Americans had not gone far enough in the report, which was received last week.

"The report was insufficient for the Japanese," Nakagawa said after a meeting with Koizumi and Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe. "There are many things I want to confirm and ask questions about."

He added: "It will take several days including making queries to the U.S."

Koizumi did not give his opinion of the report in comments to reporters after his meeting with Nakagawa, but suggested imports would not be resumed anytime soon.

"I think it will be rather difficult," he said. "There is a bit of difference in terms of the sense of safety between the U.S. and Japan," reports the AP.


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