• Kyodo

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U.S. business leaders expressed concern Monday over the worsening bad-debt problem faced by Japan’s banks, during a meeting here of the Japan-U.S. Business Council and its U.S. counterpart, a Japanese banker said.

According to Fuji Bank Chairman Toru Hashimoto, Deryck Maughan, vice chairman of Citigroup Inc., said Japanese banks are still saddled with 95 trillion yen in bad loans, 73 trillion yen of which needs to be written off.

Maughan cited the figures based on data provided by the International Monetary Fund.

Kenneth Courtis, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs Asia, also expressed concern that Japan’s worsening asset price deflation, coupled with growing corporate bankruptcies, could cause more bank loans to turn sour.

AT&T Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Armstrong, who headed the U.S. side at the meeting, said he hopes Japan’s next administration, expected to be led by Junichiro Koizumi, former health and welfare minister, will take up the bad-debt problem as its policy priority.

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