Japan is considering lifting an import ban on some chicken meat from Russia, with the two countries’ leaders expected to discuss the matter on the sidelines of this week’s Group of 20 summit, government sources said Monday.
Since 2005, Japan has been banning imports of raw chicken meat from Russia due to concerns about bird flu. According to the sources, Tokyo would lift the ban only for certain parts of the country proven to have a low risk of carrying the disease.
In May, Japan’s agriculture ministry asked an expert panel to discuss whether Tokyo should lift the ban, which would likely happen in 2020 at the earliest. Tula and Bryansk oblasts in western Russia are subject to possible removal from the import ban, the sources said.
The issue is part of a broader discussion on expanding trade in meat between the two countries.
The government’s top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, told a press conference the same day the two countries were working on “a number of issues,” but declined to comment on whether Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin would reach any sort of agreement at their meeting in Osaka on Saturday.
As for expanding meat trade between the two countries, Japan plans to urge Russia to recognize more facilities in Japan dealing with exports to boost Russia-bound shipments of Japanese beef.
In turn, Japan will be open to discussions if Moscow requests Tokyo to increase authorized facilities in Russia that handle processed meat products bound for Japan, the sources said.
According to the farm ministry, Japan imported roughly 550,000 tons of chicken meat in the year through March, with some 70 percent coming from Brazil and 20 percent from Thailand.
Japan currently suspends imports of chicken meat from 57 countries and regions to prevent bird flu virus from entering the country, according to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.