A federation of nine food industry associations called on the government Thursday to quickly end its ban on U.S. beef imports, saying it has disrupted supply and demand in the beef market.

Japan should resume importing U.S. beef based on criteria that are acceptable to consumers, as well as to the Japanese and U.S. governments, the federation said in a letter to Chikara Sakaguchi, minister of health, labor and welfare, and Yoshiyuki Kamei, minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

At a news conference following the submission of the letter, federation head Hisakazu Hayakawa said, “We want the imports resumed as soon as possible.”

Japan imposed a ban on U.S. beef imports after the first U.S. case of mad cow disease was confirmed in the state of Washington last December. Tokyo has maintained that the United States must test all slaughtered cattle for the disease as a condition to lift the ban.

The federation, which represents 2,335 food processors, distributors, restaurants, and other food businesses, as well as 409 unions, made the request to scrap the ban just as the state has started to show signs of easing its stance on blanket testing for the brain-wasting disease.

Also at the news conference was Takeshi Yamada, a senior executive of the All Japan Yakiniku Association, a group of 459 beef barbecue restaurants, who said 27 “yakiniku” barbecue restaurant operators went bankrupt “between April and August alone.”

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