U.S. beef exports to Japan are expected to rise about 45 percent in 2013 after Tokyo relaxed import curbs over mad cow disease in February, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. The U.S. Meat Export Federation expects U.S. beef sales to Japan to rise to 217,000 tons in 2013, federation president Philip Seng told a news conference in Tokyo, from 149,000 tons in 2012.

In 2003, U.S. beef exports to Japan totaled 267,000 tons, reports Reuters.

"We do see ample opportunities, especially in the yakiniku sector," Seng said, referring to Korean-style barbecue dishes.

In February Tokyo also allowed imports of some beef parts, including T-bone steaks, from the United States.

"We're seeing new optimism and enthusiasm," Seng said, adding that the economic policy of growth-focused Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been helping to improve consumer sentiment.

Source: Reuters