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Japan Tobacco Inc. wants the government to sell its shares and use the funds to finance recovery efforts after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Selling the government’s 5 million shares could raise about ¥1.7 trillion, Japan Tobacco said in a statement Tuesday. It said the funds should be used to help rebuild the nation after its worst disaster since World War II.

The Children’s Investment Fund Management U.K. LLP, the London hedge fund founded by Christopher Cooper-Hohn, is lobbying for the Tokyo-based maker of Mild Seven and Camel cigarettes to buy back stock and raise dividends.

TCI, as the fund is known, said it sent a letter dated Monday to the Finance Ministry to “instruct” Japan Tobacco’s management to buy back at least 17 percent of its shares at market prices.

Japan Tobacco “seems reluctant to buy back the shares,” Oscar Veldhuijzen, the TCI partner handling its Asia investments, said Tuesday.

The letter, written by Veldhuijzen, said Japan Tobacco Chief Financial Officer Hideki Miyazaki met with TCI in London on Aug. 31.

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