For the fourth time in four years, Japan raised tariffs on pork imports.

The hike was effective Aug. 1, 2004 and lasts until the end of the Japanese fiscal year, March 1, 2005.

Japan imported 348,431 tons of pork during April-June 2004, well above the safeguard trigger level of 282,704 tons. Japan's pork safeguard increases the government-mandated pork gate price nearly 25%, raising the average price of imported pork by as much as 54 cents/lb.

The Japanese government explained that the increase in the pork tariff was partially due to a complete ban on U.S. beef, which has increased domestic demand for pork. Japan banned U.S. beef imports after a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was discovered in a Washington State cow last December.