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The ruling Liberal Democratic Party gave the go-ahead Tuesday to two bills designed to effectively dissolve the debt-ridden Japan National Oil Corp. in March 2004.

Takeo Hiranuma, minister of economy, trade and industry, said the government will approve the bills Friday.

The bills, which if passed by the Diet would be a major success for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and his administrative reform efforts, were at the center of a recent political dispute over details for liquidating the state-run oil developer.

Hiranuma told reporters he expects the Cabinet to endorse and submit the bills to the ongoing Diet session on Friday.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry revamped the bills after the dispute was settled earlier this month.

On May 1, Hiranuma and Nobuteru Ishihara, minister in charge of administrative reform, reached a basic agreement to effectively dissolve JNOC by the end of March 2004.

With the accord, METI dropped a plan to disband JNOC in March 2003 and immediately transfer its affiliated oil developers to a special company, a measure critics say will lead to loss-making affiliates being left untouched.

Instead, the bills are designed to make JNOC concentrate on the disposal of assets after the end of March 2004 and to liquidate itself by the end of March 2005.

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