The Japanese government said Wednesday it will hold a meeting with experts next Tuesday to examine ways proposed by the United States to judge the age of cattle as a step toward lifting Japan's ban on beef imports from the country over mad cow disease, Kyodo News reported, according to Dow Jones newswires.



The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said they will consider with experts on anatomy and other relevant areas whether Japan should accept the U.S. method in which the age of cattle is verified by examining physiological maturity based on beef quality and bone structure, Kyodo reported.



The U.S. side has been saying a group of cattle classified in the "A40" category by beef quality examinations were found to have fallen into the age bracket of 12 to 17 months.



A Japanese association of the experts has been examining the accuracy of the U.S. method to verify the age of cattle. The association is headed by Akihiro Okitani, professor of Nippon Veterinary and Animal Science University.



The government is considering accepting the U.S. method for age verification as the A40 group can be distinguished from other beef groups by checking their spines, government officials said, according to the report.



If Japan does not accept the proposed age verification method, imports of only meat from cows whose age can be verified by birth certificates will be resumed, they said.