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Published reports say that the Japanese government is considering lessening the restrictions on US beef imports…though not to the extent that the Bush administration has demanded.

After a period of time during which all US beef imports were banned from Japan because of mad cow disease concerns, the government eased the restrictions to allow US beef from cattle younger than 20 months, as long as the beef is free of certain banned materials and was processed in specific US plants certified by Japanese officials.

Now, under pressure from the White House, the Japanese government is said to be ready to change the age to 30 months or younger. However, the Bush administration has been pushing for the elimination of all restrictions.
KC's View:
It is hard to imagine that the Japanese, who inspect every cow in the country for BSE, will just open up the country to US beef. Not that it would matter, since the nation’s biggest retailer, Aeon, says that it won’t sell US beef because consumers won’t buy it.

Here’s the next question. If the Japanese do indeed lighten the restrictions, what’s the over-under on how long it will take for some shipment of US beef to be found as containing banned spinal or brain matter?