Japan's government will consider a proposal that could lead to the end of its year-long ban of U.S. beef imports.
A government committee on Tuesday approved a plan by U.S. agricultural officials to certify one grade of beef as free of mad cow disease.
Japan has banned imports of U.S. beef since December 2003 after the United States discovered its first case of the brain-wasting disease.
Before the ban, Japan was the top market for U.S. beef exports, with sales of more than $1 billion.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard Baker is calling on the Japanese government to officially lift the ban so that U.S. beef imports can resume.
Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.