Ed Bedington
British pork could soon be back on the menu in the Far East for the first time since the foot and mouth crisis.
The news follows a successful trade delegation to Japan by leading industry figures last week.
Stewart Houston, chairman of the British Pig Executive, led the group and said that the trip had proved an extremely worthwhile exercise.
However, despite their success, it could still take until the summer until trade was allowed to resume, he added.
"The Japanese will be sending representatives to do some on-site inspections of the UK systems in mid-March, and following that there will be a 30-day consultation period."
He said the process was wrapped up in legislation, but if everything went smoothly, BPEX would expect to receive the certificate to export towards the end of June.
Before the foot and mouth crisis closed the Japanese market, trade to the region had been worth around £14m a year.
Houston said the trip to Japan had been extremely worthwhile: "I'm really pleased we went out there. If we hadn't, I don't think the market would have opened up before the autumn.
"Meeting them face-to-face was worth the effort, and I think it has really boosted their interest in UK product."
He added that an open Japanese market would also pave the way to re-opening other markets in the Asian region.