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The Diet passed nine bills Wednesday to convert designated special-purpose public corporations, including the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan, into nine independent administrative entities.

The legislation, which cleared the House of Councilors in the morning, is part of a package of 46 bills aimed at changing special-purpose public corporations into independent or privatized entities in line with the reform initiatives of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

The nine laws, the first of the public corporation reform proposals submitted during the current Diet session to win passage, will take effect by next Oct. 1.

The House of Representatives passed the 46 bills in a single plenary session last week and sent them to the Upper House.

It will take until around Dec. 10 for all of them to be passed, as the Upper House is dealing with them separately, having decided not to set up a special panel to examine them together.

The bills would see 42 special-purpose public corporations converted into 38 independent administrative bodies, with the remaining seven converted into privatized entities.

The new entities would be required to adopt business accounting principles and auditing by third parties.

The issue of privatizing four road-related public corporations is not included in the legislative package as it is being deliberated by a government advisory panel scheduled to compile proposals in early December.

Mirroring the Lower House, the Upper House plenary session endorsed the nine bills with majority support from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the New Conservative Party.

The Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party were in favor of some of the bills, while the Liberal Party and the Japanese Communist Party opposed all of them.

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