English Newsletter

Food Safety Citizens' Watch
English Newsletter

Issue # 9, Opposition statement: We protest against resumed beef imports from the United States July 2006
Food Safety Citizens' Watch was established in April 2003 as a network of experts to monitor developments and make proposals to the government regarding food safety issues from the citizen's point of view.
July 27, 2006

(This text was sent to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, and Health Minister Jiro Kawasaki)
Declaration of protest against resumed beef imports from the United States and a demand that the government withdraw its decision.
On July 27, 2006 the Japanese government has officially decided for the third time to allow U.S. beef to be imported, and companies can resume beef imports. We were opposed to the resumption of imports in December, 2005, and have maintained that position, since we also noted that a shipment containing high-risk material was found. Thus, we continue to be opposed to U.S. beef imports at the current time. We have presented this opinion to the government a number of times. We would like to point out that non-government political parties have declared their opposition, and there are also opinion polls that indicate that a majority of the people are expressing opposition with regards to the resumption of beef imports. However, the Japanese government has ignored the voice of the citizens wishing for safe food, and is instead siding with those who disregard food safety. The resumption of imports for the third time can only be described as a rash act. This is unacceptable. We protest against the beef imports for the following reasons, and demand that the government withdraw its decision.
1. The Japanese government audit conducted in the U.S. from June 24 to July 21, 2006 did not properly observe if 35 meat plants complied with the Export Verification program for Japan. Moreover, some violations were found. In addition to those issues, there are also other problems with regards to beef production and processing, and we have concluded that the American BSE countermeasures are careless and faulty. The Japanese government should make a request to the U.S. government to improve the present condition, and Japan should not yield to U.S. pressure.
2. The U.S. government has announced that it will cut BSE inspections to 10% of the current amount from the second half of August. U.S. consumer organizations are also opposed to such reductions in testing which amount to less strict BSE countermeasures.
3. Japanese opposition to resumed beef import has been voiced at meetings and through public comments. Such opinions have been completely disregarded. This is contrary to the concept of risk communication that was introduced by the government in 2001, when the first domestic BSE case was announced.
4. Japan has still not put in practice a label for country-of-origin. Insufficient import quarantine rules means Japanese consumers cannot be sure about which options are safe, and are exposed to the dangerous variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

Food Safety Citizens' Watch (Michiko Kamiyama, Representative)
Consumers Union of Japan (Yoko Tomiyama, Chairperson)