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Government leaders reiterated July 3 the need to toughen penalties on financial institutions due to racketeering scandals involving a leading city bank and Japan’s major securities firms.

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, in a written message to a convention of the Japan Federation of Bankers’ Associations, said the illegal payoffs by Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank and Nomura Securities Co. to a “sokaiya” corporate extortionist were “truly regrettable.” His message was read by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Teijiro Furukawa. “I think it is necessary to take steps, including strengthening penalties for violations of rules, to build up a fairer financial market,” Hashimoto said in his message.

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