Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns met with Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato for the first time Thursday to discuss resuming beef trade. Johanns specifically requested that a date be set for the resumption of beef trade, although Kato was not willing to confirm a start date.
Johanns says Kato's response was along the lines of, "we understand the importance of this issue, we're going to do everything we can."
The meeting wasn't a formal meeting but an opportunity for the two to converse together. "Needless to say, he did not come prepared to say the date will be February 1 or February 15th," Johanns says. "But I certainly felt the willingness to work with us and to get this behind us. We both expressed that."
When questioned whether Kato addressed the situation we're in with Canada and whether or not opening the border is an issue, Johanns replied that "Canada did not come up in our discussions."
Johanns says he's confident that Kato will express his desires "immediately to his government" and that it will occur on Thursday.