Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Tuesday endorsed starting procedures on Friday to allow the entry into Japan of 910 tons of U.S. beef that have yet to clear customs since their arrival in late 2005, the Kyodo News reports.

The U.S. beef has been stored in bonded warehouses since January. It had already arrived in Japan when Tokyo re-imposed its ban on U.S. beef imports in mid January after spinal cord was discovered in a veal shipment from a Brooklyn, NY supplier. The ban was lifted in July but the frozen beef has remained at Japanese harbors and other areas.

A report in the Japan Times late last week quoted Ag, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka as telling reporters officials had wanted to watch U.S. beef imports for about three months before making a decision on the stored beef. About 2,500 tons of U.S. beef have been imported into Japan since the July trade reinstatement.

The LDP committee also said Japan should continue to open every single box containing U.S. beef to make sure it's safe.

"Although three months have passed after the import resumption, we will see how things will go a little more," the Kyodo News quoted Kazuaki Miyaji, chairman of the BSE panel, as saying.
-- Joe Roybal