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Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka called on the banking industry Monday to take strict steps to ensure there would be no credit crunch toward the end of the year — a situation anxiously anticipated by many small businesses.

The minister later told a news conference that the government was reviewing its plan to implement capital-to-asset ratio benchmarks for determining whether banks’ are healthy. It is believed the plan, slated to begin in April, may be causing banks to hold back on lending.

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