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Japan may extend a special yen-loan program worth 600 billion yen beyond its planned expiration next spring to help Asian neighbors hit by a global slowdown and the economic fallout from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

According to government sources, the Finance Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry have started behind-the-scenes consultations to discuss whether — and how — to extend the three-year special loan program.

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