Tokyo aims to resume beef exports to Australia by year-end, hoping to overturn a ban on Japanese beef in place since 2001 after the discovery of mad cow disease, also called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
Japan has been in talks with BSE-free Australia since 2004 to resume exports of its gourmet "wagyu" beef, known internationally for its delicate flavor.
Regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) found in 2015 that beef and beef products imported from Japan are safe for human consumption, and the Australian government is likely to issue a final draft report that would support lifting the ban later this year, an official with Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.
Australian officials could then inspect Japanese facilities around September-November before resuming imports, the official said.
"We are aiming to finalize the talks and realize exports by the end of the year," he added.
Japan's global beef exports hit a record 13.5 billion yen ($118 million) in 2016, the official said.
As exports of cars and electronics stall, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to increase agriculture exports by a third in the next three years to 1 trillion yen ($8.74 billion), using the country's gourmet culture to cast itself as a purveyor of high-quality food.
($1 = 114.4600 yen)