OTTAWA, Ontario – Japan is taking steps that may result in improved access for beef imports from several countries, including Canada, which is welcome news to Canada’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. Last week Japan said it will review its domestic and import regulations for beef, which may lead to expanded access for Canadian beef.

Japan plans to conduct public hearings and a risk assessment on each country will be conducted by Japan's Food Safety Commission.

"We welcome Japan's decision to review their import policy on beef and we expect by taking a science-based approach to this process, Japanese customers will benefit from expanded access to Canada's safe, high-quality beef," Ritz said. "We will continue to collaborate with Japanese officials so that this review proceeds as quickly as possible and so that our beef producers can continue to strengthen their bottom line through increased trade."

Canada's exports of beef under 21 months of age to Japan totaled $81.4 million (US$79.4 million) in 2010. With expanded access, Canadian beef officials anticipate a significant increase in Canadian beef exports to Japan.