Reports that Japan will reinstate the ban on US beef, which had been lifted last month, have appeared in the Japanese press.

This move is purportedly the result of a shipment of US beef that may contain material considered at risk of contamination with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

“This is a pity given that imports had just resumed,” Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters. “I received the agriculture minister’s report over the telephone with his recommendation that the imports be halted and I think it is a good idea.”

When asked whether this meant that all US beef imports would be halted, Koizumi simply replied: “Yes”.