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Cablegate: Codel Boswell: Diet Members Point Finger at U.S.

VZCZCXRO7244
RR RUEHHM
DE RUEHKO #3420 3510904
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160904Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9493
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6861
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2935
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 1109
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2862
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 7291
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 0129
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6655
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 7208
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS TOKYO 003420

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

H FOR CODEL BOSWELL
STATE PASS USTR FOR AUSTR CUTLER, MBEEMAN, EHOLLOWAY,
JDOHERTY, AND RMEYER
USDA FOR DUS TERPSTRA, USDA/FAS SHALE, USDA/FAS DBERMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD ECON PREL JA
SUBJECT: CODEL BOSWELL: DIET MEMBERS POINT FINGER AT U.S.
FOR NO PROGRESS ON U.S. BEEF

REF: TOKYO 3338

1. (SBU) During a December 13 roundtable discussion, Japanese
Diet members suggested to Codel Boswell that it is the USG
that is responsible for a lack of progress to lift Japan's
partial ban on imports of U.S. beef and beef products.
Yoshio Yatsu, Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party's
(LDP) General Agricultural Policy Council and former
Agriculture Minister, said the GOJ has proposed previously
that it might consider somewhat relaxing restrictions on U.S.
beef to possibly allow cuts of beef from animals up to
30-months of age (compared to 20-months under the current
technical agreement). However, the USG's position that
market access for U.S. beef be based on World Organization
for Animal Health (OIE) standards has resulted in a
stalemate, asserted Diet member and former Agriculture
Minister Masatoshi Wakabayashi. The GOJ is unable to move
the beef issue on to Japan's Food Safety Commission (FSC) for
further deliberation until after the bilateral Technical
Working Group established to explore ways to fully reopen
Japan's market to U.S. beef and beef products finalizes its
report from meetings held in 2007, he said. (Note: USDA
notified the GOJ on October 16, 2008 that it considers the
Technical Working Group process to have concluded. End
note.)

2. (SBU) Wakabayashi claimed Japan's offer of 30-months is
"very reasonable." Yatsu pointed to the strong reaction and
street demonstrations by Koreans protesting Seoul's deal with
Washington to allow no age restrictions on U.S. beef imports
as an unacceptable outcome for Japan. We must proceed
incrementally and on the basis of additional study and
information to assuage Japanese consumers' concerns, Yatsu
advised. Codel Boswell urged the GOJ to work expeditiously
with the USG to resolve the U.S. beef issue.

3. (SBU) Note: Japanese officials have suggested in the
past that we accept a 30-month age limit on U.S. beef exports
to Japan. The former Agriculture Ministers' comments made no
mention of how the two sides would get to all ages, all cuts,
by a date certain. In our ongoing dialogue with the GOJ on
U.S. beef, including discussions between the President and
then Prime Minister Fukuda at the July 2008 G8 Summit in
Toyako, we have maintained that Japan's regulation of U.S.
beef imports should be science-based and consistent with OIE
guidelines. In May 2007, the OIE designated the U.S. as a
controlled-risk country for Bovine Spongiform Encelphalopathy
(BSE). OIE guidelines indicate all beef and beef products
from controlled-risk countries may be imported provided
certain tissues are removed prior to export -- i.e.,
specified risk materals or SRMs. End note.

4. (U) Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Livestock,
Dairy, and Poultry Leonard Boswell (D-IA), accompanied by
House Agriculture Committee colleagues Robert Goodlatte
(R-VA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Adrian Smith (R-NE), and Steve
King (R-IA), visited Japan December 13-15 to raise
agriculture-related issues. In addition to their roundtable
discussion with members of Japan's parliament, they also met
with the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, visited a
Wagyu Beef farm in Tochigi Province, and the first national
retail outlet to resume sales of U.S. beef after Japan
partially lifted its ban on imports in July 2007. The
delegation's discussions with Diet members on WTO-related
modalities for agriculture and Japan's food security concerns
reported septel.

5. (U) Codel Boswell did not have an opportunity to clear
this message before departure from Post.
SCHIEFFER

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