Japan announced the reopening of its market to U.S beef from cattle less than 20 months of age. USDA Secretary Mike Johanns cited the long process of confirming the U.S. system is in full compliance with Japan's import requirements and confirming the safety -- via "clear, scientific data" -- of U.S. beef. He also said: "Nations need reasonable methods of addressing the inadvertent shipment of products that don't meet an importing country's specifications, without disrupting an entire trading relationship. The U.S. has such methods of addressing noncompliant shipments from Japan, as well as our other trading partners, and I am hopeful that going forward Japan will take a similar approach."

Japan opened its market to U.S. beef in December 2005 but closed it again the following month after a U.S. veal shipment was found to contain product not allowed under the original agreement. In 2003, the U.S. exported $1.4 billion worth of beef and beef products to Japan.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent