Japan’s imports of frozen beef jumped 12% on the year to 307,000 tons in 2017 and recovered to more than 90% of the level before an import ban was imposed following the outbreak of BSE, according to trade statistics by the Ministry of Finance. But the safeguard measure currently in place remains an obstacle to a further recovery.
Following the BSE outbreak in the U.S., Japan banned beef imports from specified regions in 2003. In 2004, imports fell to 223,000 tons. After imports were resumed in 2005, demand for short plate cuts mainly used in “gyudon” beef bowls grew. The amount of frozen beef that Japan imported in 2017 neared 330,000 tons, the annual average of imports from 1998 until the import ban was imposed in 2002. But the government invoked a safeguard on frozen beef from the U.S. and other countries in August 2017, lifting the tariff from 38.5% to 50%, which will be in place until the end of March.