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The Lower House Special Committee on the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation on Tuesday set the date of a public hearing in the Diet for April 21, paving the way for the chamber’s passage of bills related to the nation’s new defense role before Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi’s scheduled departure for the United States late this month.

The committee’s board members also decided to hold a meeting Friday to discuss revisions to the bills, which concern guidelines that define defense cooperation in “areas surrounding Japan.”

The Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, the Liberal Party, hope to swiftly reach agreement on revisions to the bills covering the updated Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines ahead of Obuchi’s visit.

The committee plans to hold three full-day sessions next week, but has yet to determine specific dates because of conflicts between the ruling and opposition camps, a board member said.

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