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Two investment funds believed to be backed by the Chinese government are accelerating their purchases of stakes in major listed Japanese firms, with their total market value surging 10-fold to ¥1.5 trillion in less than two years, a recent study showed.

The two funds were major shareholders of a combined 86 firms listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s first section as of September, compared with 35 firms as of last March and 13 as of March 2009, according to the study by Chibagin Asset Management Co.

Their combined market capitalization in September came to ¥1.516 trillion, in stark contrast with ¥624.2 billion as of March last year and ¥155.6 billion as of March 2009.

Chibagin Asset Management predicts the value could reach ¥3 trillion by the end of March.

“I assume the funds are buying Japanese stocks considering them low-risk assets in managing an increasing amount of foreign currencies,” said Fujio Ando, an adviser at the asset management firm.

“I doubt they will move to launch an aggressive bid to obtain controlling stakes (in Japanese firms) anytime soon, but I don’t know the future,” he said.

The funds, both based in Australia, have made a series of investments in various Japanese sectors, including finance, electronics, telecommunications, trading houses and utilities, according to the study on the financial reports of 550 major listed firms.

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