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The leader of the nation’s banking industry apologized Tuesday for the excessive wining and dining of Finance Ministry officials carried out in the past by some bankers.”We needed such bankers, but we regret there was some excessive entertaining,” Naotaka Saeki, chairman of the Federation of Bankers Associations of Japan, told a regularly scheduled news conference in Tokyo.He was answering a question about suspicions that some bankers were designated as “MOF-tan,” or officials in charge of the ministry, to entertain bureaucrats in a bid to receive favors.Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank officials are reportedly suspected of prodding the ministry into issuing a favorable report on its bad loans in 1994. Saeki did not name any bank and said he believes there has been no excessive entertaining since the ministry set up ethics rules in December 1996.He justified the need for banks to have MOF-tan bankers by saying they help smooth communications with the ministry, which has been supervising the banking industry. Meanwhile, Saeki cited as helpful the recently announced government measures intended to ease banks’ reluctant lending attitudes.The measures include delaying the planned introduction of stricter capital requirements and the change in methods used for appraising stocks. However, Saeki said banks would remain reluctant to lend to financially sick firms.

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