The government may allow certain former and current Diet members to practice law even if they have not completed the required training process, it was learned Sunday.

A bill will be submitted to the upcoming Diet session that would allow members to practice as lawyers if they have passed the National Bar Examination and have served in the Diet for at least five years, government sources said.

The move to revise the lawyers’ law is aimed at expanding the number of lawyers in Japan.

Under the proposed bill, the officials said, such lawmakers would not be required to undergo training because they have gained experience in legislative affairs.

At present, there are six incumbent Diet members who meet such criteria.

Under the current law, lawyers must complete the training process at the Judicial Research and Training Institute after passing the bar exams.

The qualification to become a lawyer can also be granted to Supreme Court’s judges, councilors of the Diet’s legislation bureau who have passed bar exams and have at least five years experience, and professors and associate professors of law who have worked for universities for at least five years.

The government’s Judicial Reform Council in 2001 compiled a report calling for an increase in the number of working legal professionals from the current 20,000 to 50,000 by 2018. That would increase the ratio from one lawyer per 6,300 people to one per 2,400 people.

But some members of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations expressed doubt that five years in the Diet can substitute for proper training to become a lawyer.

The bill would also accord a lawyer’s license to specially trained assistant prosecutors with experience of more than five years, business officials in charge of trials for seven to eight years and local assembly members with similar backgrounds.

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