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The Development Bank of Japan plans to start a new loan system next year to encourage firms to prepare for natural disasters and terror attacks.

The DBJ, a state-controlled entity, will set three different lending rates based on its evaluation of a company’s disaster-preparation measures, it said. Firms more aggressive in their preparations will receive loans with lower interest rates.

The new system could be put into effect as early as April.

Companies have been under pressure to prepare more urgently for disasters since a major earthquake in October in Niigata Prefecture seriously damaged a semiconductor plant at Sanyo Electric Co., forcing it into a net loss in the business year to last March.

But many firms are reluctant to invest in countermeasures due to the high costs.

The DBJ said it will ask companies to draft business continuation plans so they can resume operations promptly after a natural disaster or terrorist attack occurs. The development of continuation plans is far more prevalent in Western firms than in Japan.

To rate the preparations, the DBJ said it will check employee safety measures, building quake resistance and steps to prevent secondary disasters.

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