U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged Japan to resume imports of U.S. beef.
A State Department official said Ms. Rice told Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura during talks in Washington Saturday it is taking Japan too long to lift its ban on U.S. beef, in place for more than a year. The official says Japan's government is expected to accelerate efforts to lift the ban.
Japan implemented the ban in December 2003, after the United States discovered its first case of mad cow disease. Before the ban, Japan was the top market for U.S. beef exports, with sales of more than one billion dollars.