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Trade chief Mitsuo Horiuchi expressed his intention Friday to open the door for a larger number of retailers and wholesalers to borrow money from the government.

Specifically, he plans to raise the upper capital limits for retailers eligible for loans from governmental financial institutions to 50 million yen, and that for eligible wholesalers to 70 million yen. Earlier in the week, he said the government was considering raising such limits for both retailers and wholesalers to 50 million yen.

Speaking at a news conference Friday, however, Horiuchi said further expansion of the scope of eligible companies will be necessary based on a nationwide ministry survey that led to renewed recognition of the difficulties Japanese companies face.

Under the current system, some 33,000 retailers and wholesalers out of those capitalized at 100 million yen or less are not eligible for loans from governmental financial institutions such as the Small Business Finance Corp. The proposed expansion would make 60 percent to 70 percent of those companies eligible, according to the ministry.

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