The Japanese beef exports to Hong Kong that resumed last month after a five-year hiatus did so under a 30-month age restriction, rather than the 20-month restriction Japan's government imposes on U.S. beef imports into Japan. The 20-month restriction has been a burr under the saddle of the U.S., which has futilely pressured Japan to adhere to international scientific standards on beef trade.

Hong Kong banned Japanese beef in fall 2001 after a Japanese dairy cow was found infected with BSE. Japan has discovered another 31 cases in its domestic herd since then.