The Japanese government will lift the ban on American beef imports in June, according to a report in the Mainichi Daily News. 

The report, citing government officials, said experts from both countries agreed in recent talks that US meat processing facilities will be able to meet the conditions Japan requires for the resumption of imports of US beef.

The two governments were thought to have wanted the issue settled before Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visits the US in late-June.

American beef is expected to begin hitting Japanese stores in July but consumers are still reported to be opposed to the ban being lifted, suggesting that it may take some time for sales to recover.

US and Japanese representatives met in Tokyo this week to discuss the issue. US delegates told the meeting that their inspections of 35 meat-processing facilities, which had exported to Japan prior to the ban, had shown that there was no longer any risk of part of the backbone being accidentally mixed with beef. US officials also agreed to Japan’s demand that relevant facilities be inspected before any resumption of exports, and that these facilities could be subject to spot checks following a lifting of the ban.

The latest ban had been imposed following new fears of an infection risk from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. Japan had lifted a two-year ban on beef imports in December but following the discovery of some beef backbone in beef product about a month later, a further ban was put in place.