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The House of Representatives on Friday passed Japan’s 82.11 trillion yen fiscal 2004 budget, paving the way for the House of Councilors to begin deliberations.

The bill’s passage through the Lower House means the budget will be enacted by early April. The Constitution says a state budget approved by the Lower House will automatically be enacted if the upper chamber fails to act on it within 30 days after it clears the Lower House.

But the ruling coalition, which holds a majority in both houses of the Diet, plans to send it through the upper chamber by March 26, before the start of the next fiscal year on April 1, lawmakers said.

The budget for fiscal 2004 features cuts in major policy programs but requires the issuance of a record amount of debt because of swelling social security and debt-servicing costs.

The government will issue 36.59 trillion yen in fresh government bonds, a record high for an initial budget. The bonds will account for 44.6 percent of total revenues.

Policy programs facing major cuts include defense spending and foreign aid, formally called official development assistance.

The budget also bolsters the war chest for Japan’s currency market intervention, raising the limit on how much the government can borrow for currency operations from 100 trillion yen to 140 trillion yen.

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