Minister firm on keeping public money from ailing banks

The government has not changed its stance on refusing to use public funds to help banks erase their nonperforming loans, Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka said Jan. 28.After the tremendous uproar last spring caused by the infusion of 685 billion yen in public funds to help cover losses left by seven failed “jusen” housing loan corporations, new laws were enacted that limit the future use of public money to only helping settle bad loan problems at credit unions.Speaking at a news conference, Mitsuzuka said financial institutions such as banks and their affiliated nonbank lenders were steadily getting rid of their nonperforming loans and the current government stance should be upheld. “(At the time of the jusen debate,) there was insistence that financial institutions make efforts to restructure operations and not only get rid of their bad loans but also improve their internal social and salary structures,” he said.Shunsaku Hashimoto, chairman of the Japan Federation of Bankers Associations, responded by saying the industry does not intend to call on the government to use public funds to help financial institutions get rid of their bad loans — at this time. He told a news conference that he was not in a position to know the financial status of individual banks and that the matter was something for authorities to consider. Democratic Party of Japan leader Naoto Kan recently suggested that the injection of public money be considered as a measure to encourage financial institutions to write off their bad loans. On Jan. 27, Kan’s comments prompted Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama to deny the possibility of such a step being taken, saying it would mean a complete reversal of government policy. He instead called on banks to restructure.