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The Development Bank of Japan on Thursday extended its first low-interest rate loan for firms with good disaster plans to Yasuda Warehouse Co., the government-controlled bank said.

The loan has been estimated at several hundred million yen.

DBJ introduced the loan for companies rated as excellent for their disaster-preparedness on the April 1 start of the new fiscal year.

The loan carries an interest rate 0.2-0.6 percentage point lower than conventional rates.

The development bank said it gave the high assessment to Yasuda Warehouse based on its measures to maintain the safety and operation of its facilities, telecommunications systems, data backups and cooperation with transportation firms in the event of a disaster.

Yasuda Warehouse will use the money to rebuild an old warehouse and implement new disaster programs for its communications systems, DBJ said.

Companies have been under pressure to put together disaster plans more quickly since a major earthquake in October 2004 in Niigata Prefecture seriously damaged a Sanyo Electric Co. semiconductor plant, resulting in a net loss for the firm in fiscal 2004.

But many companies are reluctant to invest in such plans due to the cost.

DBJ asks companies to draft disaster prevention plans so they can resume operations promptly after a natural disaster or attack.

The development of continuity plans is far more common among Western firms, according to the bank.

The bank evaluates various aspects of firms’ disaster planning, including employee safety measures and building quake-resistance.

DBJ has set three different lending rates based on its evaluation of a company’s disaster-preparedness. Firms that are more proactive in their planning receive a lower interest rate.