USDA Press Release No. 0177.10; Contact: USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623 Tokyo, Japan, April 8, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the following statement following a meeting this morning with Hirotaka Akamatsu, Japan's Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. "Today, Minister Akamatsu and I had the opportunity to discuss many aspects of the U.S. – Japan bilateral trading relationship in agriculture. Among other topics, we addressed the issue of Japan's import conditions for U.S. beef and beef products. The discussion was a useful exchange of respective views. Given the importance of a candid exchange of views regarding import conditions for U.S. beef and beef products based on science and international standards, we both underscored the commitment of our respective governments to continue discussions. The Minister and I share the view that U.S. and Japanese officials will continue the dialogue through a series of senior and working level meetings in order to establish a mutually agreeable framework for the import conditions for U.S. beef and beef products. This issue remains a high priority for the United States and the U.S. objective remains a framework that is consistent with science and international standards. Minister Akamatsu and I concluded our meeting by confirming that the U.S. - Japan bilateral relationship in agriculture is a strong and positive one and vowed to continue in this direction." Vilsack is in Japan to promote stronger ties between the United States and Japan in the area of agriculture as part of the President's effort to expand U.S exports through the National Export Initiative. During the 4-day trip, Vilsack delivered the keynote address at the "Partners in Agriculture Global Food Security Symposium" and participated in a town hall with Japanese students. Vilsack will also attend the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the ''hog lift'' which led to a lasting friendship between the people of Yamanashi prefecture and the state of Iowa.