The ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday endorsed a government plan to start releasing 910 tons of U.S. beef held in customs since the January import ban was imposed, LDP officials said.
Procedures to release the beef onto the market are expected to begin Friday.
The beef was in customs at several ports of entry when Tokyo imposed a total import ban on U.S. beef in January. The ban was lifted in July, but the frozen beef continued to be held in storage.
The decision to endorse the release was made by an LDP committee specializing in issues related to mad cow disease disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
The release has been delayed because the LDP insisted the government first wait three months from the import resumption date to ensure there was no major problem with U.S. beef coming into the country.
Since the ban was lifted in July, about 2,500 tons of American beef has entered the Japanese market.
The LDP committee made it clear the government should continue checking the imported beef carefully, opening up every box of American beef and making sure it is safe.
“Although three months have passed after the import resumption, we will watch a little more to see how things go,” said Kazuaki Miyaji, chairman of the panel.
Japan reimposed a total ban on U.S. beef in January, only a month after the earlier ban was lifted, because spinal material, banned under a bilateral agreement, was found in a veal shipment.
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