Tokyo More than a million people and restaurants have signed a petition urging the government to drop a ban on U.S. beef imports prompted by mad cow disease, organizers said Wednesday.
Nearly 1.2 million people nationwide signed the petition, which was submitted to the Agriculture Ministry on Tuesday to urge the early resumption of U.S. beef imports, campaign spokesman Yasuharu Tagaya said.
"We want U.S. beef back so we can enjoy dishes such as 'gyu-don' (beef and rice) and barbecued tongue," Tagaya said.
U.S. beef is crucial for restaurants serving such cheap dishes, because they use cow parts that are unpopular in the United States and are cheap to import.
Japan banned U.S. beef imports in December 2003 after the discovery of America's first case of mad cow disease.
The issue has caused discord between the two countries, with some U.S. lawmakers threatening sanctions against Japan if the ban is prolonged.