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The Bank of Japan on Monday lowered its assessments of seven of the nation’s nine regional economies to account for the impact of the March 11 mega-quake and tsunami and the power shortages sparked by the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

BOJ Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa also expressed concern about small businesses, which are now having difficulty raising operating funds.

“Cautious views about the economy have become widespread in many regions, mainly reflecting setbacks in production following the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake,” the quarterly report said.

The BOJ cut its growth forecasts for Hokkaido, Tohoku, Hokuriku, Kanto-Koshinetsu (which includes Tokyo), Tokai, Chugoku and Kyushu-Okinawa.

It kept its appraisal for Kinki, which includes Osaka, and upgraded its evaluation of Shikoku.

Meanwhile, Japan’s overall financial system has remained stable since the disaster, Shirakawa said, denying there are problems with daily settlements by commercial lenders.

The BOJ conducted its biggest-ever fund-supply operations after the quake, providing liquidity to money markets.

It has also doubled the amount of its asset-purchase funds to ¥10 trillion to support fundraising by companies, while planning to launch an emergency ¥1 trillion cheap loan program to support reconstruction work.

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