Emergency tariffs are expected to be imposed on beef and pork imports into Japan for eight months starting August.

The news comes just weeks after US agriculture secretary Ann Veneman confirmed that meetings with her Japanese counterpart, Yoshiyuki Kamei, failed to prevent Japan imposing an additional tax on beef imports. Australian authorities have also vehemently opposed the increase in tariffs.

Tariffs on refrigerated beef will be hiked to 50% from the current 38.5%, the first increase since 1996. The increase is not expected to be applied to frozen beef.

Japan's beef imports jumped 23.8% to 89,245 tonnes in the two months from April from the same period last year. Of the total, chilled beef imports surged 37.9% to 50,544 tonnes, while frozen beef imports rose 9.0% to 38,626 tonnes, reported Reuters.

Veneman told reporters she had urged Kamei not to impose the new tariffs, but he had responded that Japanese law demanded it. If imports surge, tariffs must be hiked. However, US producers have argued that the surge was actually more of a recovery after a sharp drop after Japan discovered BSE in 2001, leading to a drop in beef consumption.

Adversaries of the tariff hike argue that it will hurt local farmers as well as foreign importers, as retail prices are bound to rise and consumption will slump further.

As imports of pork are also believed to have surpassed the level that permits emergency tariffs, it is likely that measures will also be taken to raise the barrier for pork imports. The government-mandated basic price is expected to be raised.