Japanese racing's top official in Hong Kong yesterday hit back at accusations of 'protectionism' and 'double standards' in the Fairy King Prawn affair. Hong Kong's champion has been barred from defending his Group One Yasuda Kinen crown in Tokyo on June 3 on the grounds that he represents a foot-and-mouth disease risk. His exclusion has sparked a row which has escalated to government level. But the Japan Racing Association's chief representative in the SAR, Naoyuki Sunaga, told the South China Morning Post his organisation was simply following government orders. 'I understand that people are upset. All Japanese horseracing fans and the JRA are very disappointed that Fairy King Prawn will not race in the Yasuda Kinen,' he said. 'The JRA can only operate horseracing under the auspices of the Ministry Of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, to provide for the development and improvement of Japanese livestock industry as stated in the Horseracing Law. Therefore the JRA must abide by these instructions given by our ministry, which are, in other words, tantamount to a ban.' The letter from the Ministry, which arrived on March 23 at the JRA, asked that entries for Japan's international races be declined if they were from Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates or the United Kingdom. Fairy King Prawn was therefore banned from racing in Japan, as were a number of horses from the Godolphin stables in Dubai. But despite the risks, Japanese horses ran in Dubai the day after this directive and have returned home. 'This instruction came to us only after horses had been sent from Japan to race in Dubai,' Sunaga said. 'When these horses left Japan, we know that Japan is a clean country, so we don't believe these horses have infection, so they can be allowed to return.' Sunaga said he was hoping for an early end to the bans, even before the end of the crisis in Europe and the United Kingdom. 'I hope that within two or three months the situation will be changed and I hope the Japanese Government will accept horses going in and out from those countries,' he said. 'We ask the Government to make a decision early because we have a lot of international races coming before the Japan Cup.' In fact, there are 14 such races prior to the Japan Cup, the first four in the next two months, and the ruling has had an impact on the Group Two Keio Hai Spring Cup over 1,400 metres on May 13, for which four Godolphin horses have been rejected. Sunaga said he did not think the directive would have an impact on Japanese horses competing in other countries. 'I think prize money in Japan is the highest so Japanese owners prefer to consider their horses to run in Japanese races,' he said. Sunaga agreed Fairy King Prawn's trainer, Ivan Allan, had made a valid point about the 'closed shop' in Japanese racing. In a broadside at the JRA, Allan had said: 'Japanese are allowed to own horses throughout the racing world but no foreigner is permitted to own a racehorse in Japan. When will all these shameful, unbalanced policies come to an end?' Sunaga admitted: 'I think what Ivan Allan says is true right now. Owners need to be Japanese residents, paying taxes in Japan. But many organisations in the world are changing and we are trying to change also. 'We are trying to progress with this. We have a big programme to communicate with racing internationally, to accept overseas stallions, broodmares, racehorses, jockeys and trainers, and also people working on breeding farms. I am hopeful something will change in the near future. We are also communicating through conferences like the Asian Racing Conference to have more Japanese horses travel overseas,' said Sunaga.