The comments by Hiroyuki Hosoda, chief Cabinet secretary, led to speculation that imports of U.S. beef could resume in about two months.
The current block on such imports has cost U.S. beef producers and slaughterhouses more than $2.5 billion.
Hosoda's comments came a day after a panel of experts on the proteins that cause mad-cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, concluded that the risk of such infections from U.S. beef was lower than had been thought.
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