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JR East unit to go ahead with plan to use U.S. rice in lunches.

TOKYO, July 3 Kyodo

Nippon Restaurant Enterprise Inc. (NRE) will sell lunches in Japan using U.S.-grown rice as planned despite opposition from farm ministry officials and ruling party lawmakers, the president of its parent East Japan Railway Co. said Tuesday.

''With the launch date approaching, there will be no changes in the plan,'' Mutsutake Otsuka said at a press conference.

NRE is planning to stimulate flagging demand for prepared lunches by using organic rice and natural foodstuffs, Otsuka said. As the company is unable to secure the necessary 300 tons of organic rice a year in Japan, it decided to produce it in the United States.

The subsidiary has been holding talks on the sale plan with concerned parties, including the Food Agency, over the past two years, Otsuka said.

In late June, NRE announced a plan to sell lunches made at its subsidiary in California at railway stations in Tokyo from July 17.

The plan has aroused strong opposition from officials of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry and lawmakers of the Liberal Democratic Party, especially those from agricultural constituencies.

NRE, which consumes 4,000 tons of homegrown rice a year, is also considering a new lunch using Japanese rice, Otsuka said.
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Publication:Japan Transportation Scan
Date:Jul 9, 2001
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