The land ministry would be required to consult with prefectural governments when compiling or revising plans to build national highways, according to a bill to revise the National Expressway Law, ministry officials said Thursday.

The bill also calls for prefectural governments to share costs with the national government in building and managing such highways, with the national government footing “more than three-quarters” of the cost.

Under a related bill, the national government would take over 1.34 trillion yen of the 3.8 trillion yen debt now held by the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority, a struggling road-related public corporation.

The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry will submit the two bills to the Diet during its current session, the officials said.

In December, the government and the ruling coalition agreed on how to share the cost of building and operating national highways.

Based on the agreement, the government will bear 95 percent of the costs in Okinawa Prefecture, following the revision of a special law to promote the prefecture, and 85 percent of the costs for Hokkaido, according to the planned legislation.

In addition, the special emergency bill on the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority says the government will “swiftly take measures in fiscal 2003, given the authority’s critical fiscal situation,” to reduce the authority’s debts.

The bill would allow the national government to use its general account budget to cover the debts.

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