A lawmaker questions whereabouts of American corn shipped to Japan under emergency import program

TOKYO, April 15 – An opposition party lawmaker posed a question at a Diet committee session on April 14 about whereabouts of American corn which then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told then-U.S. President Donald Trump in August 2019 that Japan would import as an emergency measure.

“I have been wondering about what happened to corn that Japan imported as an emergency measure during the Trump administration,” asked Akiko Kamei, a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, asked at a session of the Lower House’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Committee. “Where did it go?”

In response, Yasuhiro Hanashi, state minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, explained that a fall armyworm outbreak was confirmed in Japan in July 2019, leading to concerns that damages to crops could cause a shortage in feed supplies.

Then the government decided to purchase corn from the United States under the Agriculture and Livestock Industries Corporation’s emergency feed grain reserve program, Hanashi said.

Regarding whereabouts of the imported corn, Hanashi initially said, “It was stored in Japan and used.” But immediately afterwards, he corrected himself and said, “It was stored in Japan.” He did not clarify whether the corn was used after it was imported.

An official of the agriculture ministry’s feed division told The Japan Agricultural News, “We don’t ask for reports to be made on the program, but we believe it has been used accordingly.”

Initially, the volume of imports was planned at a maximum of 2.75 million tons, but the actual amount came to 68,000 tons since crop damage did not spread as much as feared, according to the ministry.

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