The government plans to compile guidelines for self-driving cars in fiscal 2017 starting April 1 as it prepares to rework the existing legal framework ahead of the rollout of such vehicles, officials said Thursday.

Japan is seeking to promote the spread of automated driving in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, and needs to address legal issues and set new safety regulations.

Among potential changes, the government needs to define liability in the event of an accident involving a self-driving car. Based on the guidelines, Tokyo plans to formulate necessary legislative revisions and have them passed during the regular Diet session in 2019.

"We will aim to address labor shortages in rural areas and help people with mobility difficulties by introducing automated driving that does not need human drivers by 2020," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told members of a government panel on future investment.

The panel confirmed a plan to conduct public road tests of driverless trucks, buses, and taxis starting in fiscal 2017.

Abe has identified automated driving and artificial intelligence as key innovations to drive economic growth amid the graying of society. He called for closer cooperation between the public and private sectors at Thursday's meeting.

In fiscal 2017, the government plans to start testing partially automated truck convoys, aiming to successfully develop them by fiscal 2020 and employ them on highways linking Tokyo and Osaka.

Trials of driverless buses and taxis will be aimed at helping elderly passengers visit doctors and run errands in sparsely populated areas of Japan where there are few other transport options.