The US Senate has voted to prohibit Washington from resuming the import of Japanese beef until Tokyo lifts its ban on US beef, reports the Japan Times.

The US Department of Agriculture proposed last month easing a four-year import restriction on Japanese beef, though an expert panel has yet to give the go-ahead to lift Japan's 21-month import ban on US beef.

Each country imposed its ban after the discovery of mad cow disease in the other country.

"It sends a strong message to the Japanese government that the United States is committed to fair trade," said senator Ben Nelson, who sponsored the measure as an amendment to the fiscal 2006 agriculture appropriations bill.

"It is unfair, unwise and unhealthy for the economy to allow one country to increase its imports while not allowing the same privilege for America," the Nebraska Democrat said.