For the past several months, regulatory agencies in Japan have been conducting a formal review of the country’s BSE-related beef import restrictions. While no final decision has been issued, all indications suggest that this process will likely result in favorable amendments to the 20-month cattle age limit currently imposed on imports of U.S. beef and to other BSE-related import regulations.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda recently dissolved the lower house of parliament and called for a general election to be held Dec. 16. While some observers have speculated that this political shakeup could impact Japan’s review of its beef import restrictions, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Philip Seng does not expect this to be the case. In the attached audio report, Seng states that the proposed changes have strong support in Japan and he expects the review process to continue moving forward.

Seng adds further comments regarding the enhanced opportunities these regulatory changes will create for U.S. beef in Japan. He notes that total beef consumption in Japan still hasn’t fully recovered to its pre-BSE level, and this presents an opportunity for the U.S. beef industry to capitalize on demand that foreign competitors were never able to satisfy.