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The Diet on Friday enacted into law two bills aimed at improving the system for educating legal professionals.

The bills, approved by the House of Councilors after passing through the House of Representatives on Nov. 12, are intended to pave the way for a more comprehensive legal education system linking law schools, bar examinations and legal apprenticeships.

One of the laws is aimed at expanding the number of legal professionals in Japan through increased educational opportunities, setting up a new bar exam, and linking them with the process of legal apprenticeship. It will be introduced in 2004.

Under the existing system, people can enter the legal profession based solely on how well they do on national bar exams.

The second law calls for a revision of the national bar examination law that would require those who are not graduates of law schools to take a pre-exam before qualifying to take the bar examination.

It would also limit the number of times an individual can take the new national bar exam to three times in five years and shorten the period of legal apprenticeships to one year from 18 months.

A new bar exam for law school graduates would be introduced in 2006. The current exam will be kept until 2010 for those who do not attend law school. The pre-exam would be introduced in 2011.

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