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Figures indicating that the nation’s banks have more than triple the amount of bad loans than originally thought will help spur Diet debate on using public funds to stabilize the financial system, Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka said Tuesday.On Monday, the Finance Ministry said independent assessments made by major and regional banks showed that potential problem loans totaled 76.71 trillion yen — about 3.5 times more than the 21.73 trillion yen the ministry reported last month as of the end of September.”We had promised the Diet to release the figures, and did so in an effort to provide more concrete information regarding the actual situation,” Mitsuzuka told a news conference. Mitsuzuka said he hopes the figures will serve as the basis of upcoming Diet debate on government-proposed legislation to use up to 30 trillion yen in public funds to protect deposits and inject capital into banks up to March 2001.The banks, using individual standards, collectively reported 624.86 trillion yen in loans and guarantees, of which about 548.16 trillion yen was considered to be sound. Roughly 2.7 trillion yen of credit supplied by the banks was classified as “type four,” or loans deemed irrecoverable.Another 8.72 trillion yen was put into the “type three” category, indicating there is considerable doubt as to whether these loans can be reclaimed. The remaining 65.29 trillion yen in loans and credits was classified as “type two,” meaning a great portion of these loans could be considered problem-free with cautious management by the banks, according to ministry officials. “This (type two) figure in its entirety should not be considered as loans having gone sour altogether at this stage,” one official stressed.Monday’s figures were tallied under standards different than those used by the ministry, and each bank applied its own benchmarks in classifying the loans, ministry officials said. The total figures, as a result, do not reflect nonperforming loans as of a set date, because the banks rated the loans separately.

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