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Where Japan's Concerned, It's Tit-For-Tat Time

The reopening of the Japan market to U.S. beef is as inevitable as the coming of spring.

Two seeming certainties that resulted from this week's U.S.-Japan talks on reopening of beef trade were that Japan intends to stall as long as possible, and every day the U.S. is out of the market costs cattlemen both in the short- and long-term.

Nonetheless, the reopening of the Japan market to U.S. beef is as inevitable as the coming of spring. That's because Japan's position is untenable. The science is clear; Japan has conceded that. The Japanese overreaction to a single mishandled shipment of veal by a U.S. supplier by shutting down all U.S. beef imports is not in keeping with international standards. Simply put, Japan is not acting in accordance with any definition of good faith.

The only question is how quickly the U.S. will find the fortitude to apply the pressure necessary to bring about the inevitable outcome. Because Japan's future is inimitably linked with acting responsibly in the global marketplace, Japan ultimately has no choice.

Japan has delivered a devastating blow to the U.S. cattle industry largely due to the absence of any consequences, and even the presence of some benefits, for doing so. It is time Japan understands that, similar to the concept of "mutually assured destruction" during the Cold War, there are consequences for unilateral, baseless trade actions. At this point, it is up to America to provide that lesson with actions that deliver that message. -- Troy Marshall

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