TOKYO (AP) _ U.S. and Japanese officials have reached an agreement that would revise an almost 20-year-old bilateral accord covering nuclear reprocessing and allow Japan more autonomy in its nuclear energy program.

The agreement, announced Friday, still must be signed by both governments and approved by the Japanese Diet (parliament).

It revises a 1968 pact requiring Japan to obtain U.S. permission before operating any nuclear reprocessing facility or transferring spent fuel from Japan to France or Britain, according to a statement from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

The new accord replaces previous restrictions with ''blanket consent,'' based on observation of certain requirements to ensure the peaceful use of nuclear fuels and preservation of the environment.

Japan currently has 32 commercial reactors and is about 26 percent dependent on nuclear power for electricity.