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A Lower House committee will hold discussions today on the activities of international credit-rating companies, which critics say have unreasonably fueled financial turmoil in Japan and the rest of Asia.

The surveillance committee on audit administration will hear testimony from two unsworn witnesses who are experts on the issue. The committee will also listen to officials from the Finance Ministry, the Financial Supervisory Agency and the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission on how they deal with credit-rating firms.

Shozo Harada, a legislator from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and head of the committee, said grounds for credit ratings are often unclear, and problems result from unilateral downward ratings.

In a declaration issued last month in Kuala Lumpur, leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum expressed concerns over the role of credit-rating agencies and called for a review of their work.

Moody’s Investors Service of the United States last month downgraded Japanese government bonds for the first time. Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa criticized the rating, saying the bonds are the most creditworthy in the world.

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