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Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka urged regional banks Oct. 15 to step up efforts to improve operations ahead of the “Big Bang” of financial system deregulation.In a speech before the annual gathering of leaders of the nation’s regional banks, Mitsuzuka stressed the importance of no-nonsense management and urged financial institutions to improve the efficiency of their operations. “There are still various concerns (over the health of some banks). So I call on you to reaffirm your responsibilities to society and make efforts to rationalize your entire management structures,” he said.In recent days, four regional financial institutions based in the Kansai region have announced plans to merge or liquidate, indicating that the impending reforms could lead to a drastic realignment within the industry, especially among some of the smaller financial institutions.

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