The Japanese government is asking the United States not to impose economic sanctions while it continues to consider ways to end its year-long ban on U.S. beef.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda is urging patience while the two sides continue to negotiate.

Japan imposed the ban in December 2003 after the United States discovered its first case of the brain-wasting disease commonly known as mad cow.

Several U.S. lawmakers have called for trade sanctions if Tokyo does not move quickly to lift the ban. Japan was the top market for U.S. beef exports before the halt, with sales of more than $1billion.

Tokyo has tentatively agreed to lift the embargo, but negotiations are still taking place on how to verify cattle are free of mad cow disease.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Bloomberg.