The Cabinet endorsed three bills Tuesday to update legislation to promote mergers of local administrations.

Officials said one of the bills calls for prefectures to play a greater role in promoting mergers of towns and cities. It is designed to replace a law expiring next March on promotion of municipality mergers. The new law would operate for five years beginning in April 2005.

It would ask prefectures to work out basic merger initiatives and governors to back concrete plans. The second bill covers revisions to the current law, including transitional steps until the law expires.

The third bill would amend the Local Autonomy Law to simplify procedures to merge municipalities belonging to different prefectures.

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