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Mitsuo Horiuchi, minister for international trade and industry, on Wednesday urged financial authorities to consider using public funds for an investment cooperative that would purchase corporate shares held by banks.

Horiuchi was reacting to Japan’s credit crunch, which last week put Toshoku Ltd., a major food retailer, into bankruptcy proceedings and has sparked fears of more bankruptcies. With his plan, Horiuchi said, “banks’ capital-to-asset ratios can be propped up without further hampering the stock market. And it will provide a quick solution to the credit crunch.”

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