January 26, 2004



Japan Bans Chicken Imports From Indonesia, Cambodia On Bird Flu Fears


Japan has suspended chicken meat imports from Indonesia, where officials have confirmed an outbreak of bird flu among millions of chickens, the Agriculture Ministry said Monday.


The ban, which took effect Sunday but was not announced until Monday, also applied to Cambodia, though Japan does not import chicken from that country, said Taketsugu Akahane, Agriculture Ministry spokesman.


Japan imported 2,972 tons of chicken meat and products from April 2002 until March 2003, the latest figures available, Akahane said. The imports account for only between 0.3% and 0.4% of Japan's total chicken and chicken products imports.


Last Thursday, Japan banned imports of chicken meat from Thailand, one of the world's largest producers of poultry. Japan has also suspended imports from Connecticut, Rhode Island, Macau, Hong Kong, Italy, South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan.


Indonesian officials say the avian flu has not spread to humans there. Officials said further tests would be conducted to determine whether the virus was the same strain that has swept through other countries in the region, killing at least six people and millions of poultry.


Governments in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have ordered mass chicken culls to combat the spread of the bird flu. Vietnam has slaughtered more than 3 million chickens and Thailand 9 million.

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