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    It came out yesterday that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries had not held to a cabinet-level resolution to do site inspections of US meat-processing facilities before reopening Japan to beef imports. Naturally, the revelation constituted a signal for everyone who’s ever walked past a government facility to deliver an opinion on the safety concerns thus raised. The one of most interest came, of course, from the opposition leader:

    Around noon on 30 January, Democratic Party of Japan leader Seiji Maehara responded to questions from the press corp in the Diet Building about Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa’s failure to conduct site inspections before deciding whether to reopen Japan to imports of US-produced beef. About Nakagawa’s statement that “I did not act in accordance with the diet resolution, so I take responsibility,” Maehara stated, “It’s only fitting for him to resign. And it shouldn’t stop there–responsibility must be extended to the entire cabinet.”

    Shinzo Abe weighed in also:

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe spoke at a lower house budget committee meeting on 30 January, delivering the government’s official (unified) position revolving around the issue of the failure to conduct site inspections that were to have been carried out before the reopening of Japan to imports of US-produced beef: “The decision to resume imports has not conflicted with the government’s original response.”

    In the afternoon, he emended his statement to “(After the issuing of the government’s response paper), we judged that the efficacy of [procedures to] preserve safety had been secured through cooperation between Japan and the US. There has been no deviation from the response paper’s main point that we need to secure the safety of the food supply.” That evening, he retreated from his statement that morning, stating, “I have not said that [Nakagawa’s actions] violated the cabinet resolution.” He did not respond to calls for Nakagawa’s resignation from the opposition parties.

    Leaving aside whether the original cabinet resolution was excessively finicking and paranoid, it’s pretty clear that Nakagawa and his team failed to follow it by not performing site inspections. It’s not clear yet whether enough people will get worked up to force him to resign.

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