Japan formally requested the World Organization for Animal health, OIE, to declare the country free of foot and mouth disease do it can resume beef exports. Japan suffered an outbreak of FMD which forced the termination of 289.000 livestock.
Tokyo made the formal request a month and a half after authorities in Miyazaki, south of Japan, whose cattle herd is considered the best of the country, officially declared the end of the epidemics which started last April.
Tha same month Japan halted all beef exports, although later and following bilateral talks resumed shipments to Hong Kong and Macao. However exports to Singapore, Vietnam and the United States remain frozen.
If OIE gives a positive reply, Japan will be declared free of FMD next February 2011, according to the local news agency Kyodo.
Besides having to sacrifice thousands of pigs and cattle, and some of the best bulls of the country, the preventive measures also imposed a ban on all cattle transport.
A total 1.250 farms had to undergo thorough disinfection and cleaning processes to ensure the eradication of the virus, ‘O’ strain, which is the commonest in Asia where the disease is endemic.
The disease also forced the cancelling of many cultural and sports events plus the temporary closure of public establishments.
Japan in 2006 exported 74 tons of beef and 565 tons in 2009, mostly to Hong Kong and Vietnam.
In related news Korea was declared free of foot-and-mouth disease and will now seek to resume exports of pork.
The Korean Agriculture Ministry said that OIE restored Korea's disease-free status on Monday, five months after the last case of the highly-contagious disease was reported in May.
According to the ministry, OIE recognized Korea’s quarantine efforts in the aftermath of the outbreak and its follow-up steps to eliminate the disease. Korea resumed pork exports to Japan in July, and has said it would try to do the same for the U.S. market after receiving the disease-free designation.