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Financial Services Minister Heizo Takenaka said Tuesday he intends to keep a strict watch on the restructuring plans of major banks to ensure they produce favorable results in reviving the nation’s banking sector.

“New restructuring plans have been unveiled over the past weeks, and I welcome such moves,” Takenaka told a news conference.

The plans will be scrutinized carefully from three viewpoints to check their efficiency, he said.

He said they should be “strategic,” adding he would not approve any consolidation or merger plans simply aimed at boosting figures.

With these comments, Takenaka was apparently urging banks to come up with realignment plans that will strengthen their financial standing and warning them not to form consolidations or mergers just to boost their net worth on the surface.

He also said banks’ restructuring plans should be “sound” and “sincere.”

In explaining the soundness criteria of the plans, Takenaka said they should not lead to wasting banks’ capital resources.

He also said banks should be sincere in relations with their borrowers and should not take advantage of their superior position as lenders to force borrowers to contribute to increasing their capital.

BOJ shareholdings up

The Bank of Japan said Tuesday it held shares worth 150.1 billion yen due to its purchases of shares held by banks as of Dec. 31, up from 80.78 billion yen Dec. 20.

The data suggest the central bank bought 69.32 billion yen worth of shares from commercial banks.

The BOJ began buying shares from commercial banks Nov. 29 through a trust bank, following a decision by the central bank’s board in September to buy shares from banks to protect their balance sheets from stock price falls.

The BOJ has said it plans to buy up to 2 trillion yen worth of shares and will end the program in September 2004.

The BOJ releases data on its assets every 10 days but refrains from disclosing the names of shares purchased or the banks from which they were bought.

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