About 2,100 graduates from university law schools took the new national bar exam Friday, conducted for the first time under judicial reforms launched in 2004.

About 900 to 1,100 people, or up to 52 percent of applicants, are expected to pass the four-day exam, which will run through Tuesday in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Sendai and Fukuoka, the national bar examination commission said.

The percentage of successful applicants will be much higher than the average 3 percent for the old exam, but lower than the 70 percent to 80 percent estimated by a government advisory panel on judicial reforms. The names of successful applicants will be released in September.

Judicial reforms centered on two aspects — reforming the national bar exam and criminal trials.

To increase the number of successful bar exam applicants and eventually boost the number of legal professionals, 68 law schools were opened in 2004. Law schools in Japan offer two-year courses for graduates of university law faculties and three-year courses for graduates of nonlaw majors.

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