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Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa said Wednesday he believes that improved business practices were behind the recent surge in Tokyo stocks.

“I think it is because performances by companies are getting better,” Shiokawa said after the benchmark Nikkei stock average rose 59.97 points to close the day at 9,092.97, its highest close so far this year.

“Unless companies’ performances improve, the Japanese economy will not get better,” he said.

The Nikkei closed above 9,000 for the second straight day.

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