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Since at least the mid-1970s, Japan and its beef import suppliers, the U.S. and Australia in particular, have engaged in heated negotiations on the level of the Japanese beef import quota. U.S. negotiators have demanded that Japan completely liberalize beef imports. The Japanese have responded in a piecemeal fashion, increasing the quota by comparatively small amounts in an apparent attempt both to appease U.S. interests and to minimize the opposition of the politically powerful domestic cattle producers. The most recent Japanese concession was an agreement in the fall of 1984 to expand the total beef import quota by 9,000 metric tons (mt) per year for four years, bringing total imports to 177,000 mt by early 1988.