A cabinet meeting earlier today gave the go-ahead for temporary curbs to be placed on Chinese agricultural imports for up to 200 days from the end of this month.

Government officials from the Japanese farm ministry, finance ministry and ministry of economy, trade and industry decided that the emergency measures were necessary because of the vastly increased level of imports of stone leeks, shiitake mushrooms and rushes, used for tatami mats. Yoshio Yatsu, agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, had proposed the policy because of fears over the detrimental effects such imports would have on the domestic economy.

A survey into those effects has not yet been completed, however the government has imposed an emergency temporary ban in line with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. If the officials are wrong in their predictions of the survey results, however, the government is obliged to pay back the duties it imposed.

Japanese officials added that they would deal with China with respect to WTO laws even though China is not yet a member country. Toshikatsu Matsuoka, senior vice minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, will visit Beijing this Thursday to explain the reasons for today’s decision.

China may yet alleviate the situation by proposing a self-imposed series of export restraints.

A follow-up meeting will be held next week in order to change the tariff code and implement the import curbs.

To read about the lead up to this week’s decision, click on the following links:
JAPAN: Government mulls import restrictions to protect domestic farmers
JAPAN: Japan moves to protect Shiitake mushroom, Welsh onion industries