Japan and US Officials Resume Beef Talks

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Japanese and US officials today wrapped up the first day of talks on a survey of the US meatpacking industry.

That's as Washington seeks a reopening of the Japanese market to US beef imports.

A team of US agriculture officials met with officials from Japan's Foreign, Health and Agriculture ministries at the Foreign Ministry.

They're not revealing the content of today's talks, but they say they'll meet for a second day tomorrow.

Japan banned the meat in January over mad cow disease worries, and the US officials are in Tokyo hoping to restart talks on lifting the ban.

Japan first shut its profitable market for US beef in December 2003 after the first discovery of mad cow disease in the United States. So far, the United States has found three cows infected with the disease. One was born in Texas, which is the leading US cattle producer.

The ban was eased in December 2005 to allow imports of meat from cows 20 months old or younger. But Japanese customs officials found
spine bones in a shipment of American veal in January and closed the market again. Tokyo considers spine bones at risk for the disease.