A special committee of the House of Representatives decided Friday to carry over to the next Diet session a bill to extend the antiterrorism law for two years.

This is the legislation under which Japan provides logistic support to U.S.-led military operations in and around Afghanistan.

Senior members of the ruling and opposition camps on the panel set up to discuss the extension and support for Iraq’s reconstruction agreed to carry over the debate.

The opposition parties also demanded that the issue be debated for at least three days during this fall’s extraordinary session. That could delay passage of the bill and affect the timing of the dissolution of the Lower House, which is expected for early October, lawmakers said.

The senior members of the ruling and opposition camps decided to hold a question-and-answer session on the bill Wednesday. They also plan to send a fact-finding mission to Iraq and Afghanistan on July 28, when the current legislative session ends, and have the participants answer questions from the panel at the next session on the situation in those countries, the lawmakers said.

The antiterrorism law, enacted in October 2001 after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, expires Nov. 1.

Under the law, Japan has dispatched the state-of-the-art Aegis destroyers and other vessels to the Indian Ocean for six-month tours of duty.

The bill to extend the law until November 2005 was submitted to the Diet along with a bill that would allow the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces elements to Iraq.

The two bills were separated after the opposition parties opposed treating them as a package.

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