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The Japan Bank for International Cooperation will enhance financial support for companies having difficulty acquiring dollars to fund overseas operations, officials said Tuesday.

The government-backed bank will lend up to $3 billion, JBIC and Finance Ministry officials said, adding the main recipients will be small and medium-size businesses with a presence in developing countries in Asia.

The program, open through next March 31, is aimed at maintaining the international competitiveness of Japanese industries as they try to weather the global economic slump.

The five-year loans will be provided through Japanese banks starting as early as late June, they said.

The JBIC, now under the wing of Japan Finance Corp., stopped providing loans to big companies in principle after reforms to government-affiliated financial institutions kicked in last October.

It resumed emergency measures late last year in the form of loans and debt guarantees to meet the growing capital needs of Japanese firms overseas.

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