Last month, the Japanese government lifted its two-year-old ban on American beef imports, which was originally imposed over fears of mad cow disease. Japan was previously the
largest foreign market for American beef, purchasing 330,000 tons annually prior to the ban. But a survey by the Kyodo News Agency found 75% of Japanese are still wary of
American beef. However, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is running an aggressive PR campaign to win Japanese hearts, minds and taste buds. A December luncheon catered by
the USMEF at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Tokyo, with tenderloin steak as the main course, attracted a high level of press attention (U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer was
at the event to talk up American beef). Furthermore, Japanese-born Chicago White Sox second baseman Tadahito Iguchi (shown here) was hired as the USMEF's celebrity spokesman (he
credits American beef as the source of his home run-generating strength).