A U.S. Senate proposal to impose tariffs on Japanese products should not influence Tokyo's decision on whether to ease its ban on American beef, imposed due to mad cow disease fears, a top government official said Thursday.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said the conclusion of Japan's Food Safety Commission should be based on science, not foreign pressure.
"We are carefully observing the actions of the senators, but that should not affect the deliberations by the Food Safety Commission," Hosoda told reporters.
Twenty-one U.S. senators on Wednesday introduced legislation that would impose tariffs on Japan in retaliation for its ban on U.S. beef.
Japan, once American beef's most lucrative foreign market, closed its borders to U.S. beef imports in December 2003 after the detection of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease, reports the AP.