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A panel handling the privatization of four expressway-building public corporations unexpectedly decided Monday to open all of its sessions to the media to enhance transparency on the politically sensitive issue.

At the first session Monday, the secretariat of the seven-member panel came prepared with a set of rules for conducting the discussions in which the minutes of the closed-door meetings would be disclosed later.

But nonfiction writer Naoki Inose, a controversial member of the group, proposed that the sessions be open to the public, to which all members agreed, said Takashi Imai, who was formally elected panel chief.

Imai was chairman of the Japan Federation of Economic Organization (Keidanren), a former business lobby.

The council has been given the task of hammering out a final conclusion on the forms of public corporations and the fates of many expressway projects. An interim report is expected during the summer.

“Data should be examined one by one to determine whether a road can really generate profits or not,” Inose said after the meeting.

Meddling with expressway projects is a politically sensitive issue because many lawmakers in the ruling bloc are backed by related firms, especially construction companies.

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