Japanese Aso asks banks for help as corporate financing needs increase at year-end

PHOTO FILE; Japan’s new Finance Minister Taro Aso speaks at a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, September 16, 2020. REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso on Monday urged public and private financial institutions to help ensure good corporate finance as financing needs increase towards the end of the year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has particularly boosted demand for funds in the service sector such as the travel and food industries. The capital, Tokyo, has requested shorter working hours for bars and restaurants over the coming weeks to help stem the spread of the new coronavirus amid a surge in the number of new cases.

“I would like (the banks) to lend a sympathetic ear to businesses,” Aso said in a meeting with representatives of the banking industry, noting that some companies continue to have difficulty with financing.

Japanese banks’ outstanding loans stood at 533.3 trillion yen ($ 5.12 trillion) at the end of October, up 6.2 percent from the previous year, according to data from the Japanese Bankers Association.

“We will support the Japanese economy on the financial side, in close coordination with the government and the Bank of Japan,” Kanetsugu Mike, group chairman and MUFG Bank chairman, said at the same meeting.

Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Christopher Cushing

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