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The Associated Press reports that President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi are expected to discuss the Japanese ban on US beef imports this week while attending the annual meeting of the United Nations general Assembly.

Analysts believe that this conversation could lead to a relaxation of the ban. Japan has been pushing for the US to establish stricter testing regulations for it would relax or eliminate the ban; in Japan, they test every cow that is slaughtered.

Until the ban was imposed when a single case of mad cow disease was identified in the Pacific Northwest, Japan imported more than a billion dollars worth of US beef each year.
KC's View:
It sounds like Japan is considering a political accommodation, as opposed to making a decision based on science. While we’d love to see the Japanese markets opened to US beef, that seems like a short-sighted decision, and that a better move would be for the US to toughen its testing policies.