A bill aimed at encouraging lenders to freeze debt repayments for small and midsize companies was set to clear the Lower House late Thursday night after the ruling bloc rammed it through a Diet committee in the first such power play since the Hatoyama administration assumed office two months ago.

The government-sponsored bill was passed by the Lower House Financial Affairs Committee despite a boycott by the Liberal Democratic Party, the main opposition force, and its former ruling coalition partner, New Komeito.

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