The Diet passed a bill Friday that allows current and former lawmakers to practice law, even without undergoing normal legal training, if they pass the bar exam and have served in the legislature for at least five years.

The House of Councilors approved the bill for amending related laws, mainly backed by the ruling coalition, in a plenary session, completing the legislative process following the House of Representatives’ endorsement. The amendments are expected to take effect in April.

Lawmakers will not be required to undergo normal legal training, which usually lasts 1 1/2 years after the bar exam, involves course work and practical training, and is supervised by the Supreme Court.

They will only have to participate in short-term training, which will be determined by the justice minister.

Currently, seven serving Diet members meet the criteria.

Opposition parties have criticized the change, saying lawmakers should not try to give preferential treatment to their own.

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