Managers from about 250 small and medium-size companies based in Tokyo gathered Monday for advice on coping with the worsening credit crunch.The Tokyo Chamber of Commerce hosted the seminar as many smaller firms are finding it difficult to obtain loans from Japanese financial institutions. Participants were given advice on how to apply for special loan programs drawn up by public institutions to help struggling small firms. “(A major bank) had regularly lent us about 50 million yen to 60 million yen a year, but it has become reluctant since last year,” said one man who runs a land survey and planning company. “We’ve had transactions (with that bank) over 30 years. But they no longer lend money to us,” he said.”Kashi-shiburi” (tight lending practices) has become the buzzword describing the difficulties confronting small businesses. According to a recent survey by the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce, 36 percent of smaller businesses in Tokyo said the situation had worsened in the July-September period compared to the previous three-month period, up 4.1 percentage points from the previous survey in July.Some 16.9 percent said tight lending practices have “seriously affected” their business, up 3.5 percentage points from the July survey, the chamber said.

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