Nearly 1.2 million Japanese consumers are urging their government to resume U.S. beef imports as early as possible.
A campaign led by Japanese beef lovers and restaurants collected the signatures of more than a million consumers asking the Japanese government to drop a ban on U.S. beef imports that was put in place after the Dec. 23, 2003 bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) find in Washington state.
AP reports that the campaign spokesman says U.S. beef is needed for Japan consumers to one again enjoy the popular "gyu-don" (beef and rice bowls) and barbecued tongue.
The U.S. beef is crucial for cheap dishes because the cow parts, such as tongue, have little or no value in the United States. Therefore the beef is inexpensive to import to Japan.
Earlier this week a food safety panel took one step closer to trade resumption with an agreement to accept cattle 20 months or younger without testing them for BSE. The panel still has to hear public comments on the rule change.