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Another Suspected Mad Cow Case Surfaces in Japan


Another suspected case of mad cow disease surfaces in Japan and a sporty new car makes its debut.

Japanese health ministry officials have found a fifth suspected case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The discovery raises concern that the disease may have spread farther than previously thought.

A six year-old cow from a farm in Kanagawa prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, has tested positive for the disease, which was first spotted in Japan last September.

The government estimates that Japan's meat industry has lost more than $3 billion because of BSE, since many consumers no longer eat beef. The illness has been linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a fatal human version, which has killed about 100 people across Europe and the United Kingdom. Japan is the first country in Asia to find diseased cows.

In the auto sector, Toyota has released a new compact wagon for the Japanese market called the Voltz. It is the first vehicle for Japanese buyers that Toyota has jointly developed with General Motors. The two auto giants have a long-running relationship.

Both Toyota and GM contributed to the car's design, while Japan's largest automaker was responsible for the development. Toyota aims to sell 1,500 of the cars each month.

Mark Hogan, GM's vice president, says "the Voltz has evolved from the collaborative effort of General Motors and Toyota, two exemplary American (and) Japanese industry leaders."

General Motors began selling the car in the United States, where it is called the Vibe, in January.

The Japanese unit of Starbucks, the U.S. coffee shop chain, posts mixed results. The popular chain says its operating profit for the first quarter declined 23 percent from the previous year. The coffee retailer attributes the drop to exchange rate fluctuations. It says imported coffee beans became more expensive earlier in the year when the yen depreciated. However, the chain's sales jumped as Starbucks Japan increased the number of its outlets.

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