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Mizuho Financial Group Inc.’s banking unit chief pledged to take more risks to increase lending to small businesses as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to revive the economy spur corporate sentiment.

“Loan demand has already been increasing from big companies,” Mizuho Bank Ltd. President Nobuhide Hayashi said in a recent interview in Tokyo, a month after taking the post amid a management overhaul following a scandal involving credit to gangsters. “To boost Japan’s vitality, we need to secure an environment that allows small and medium-sized enterprises to expand without worries.”

Mizuho Financial said in September it aims to increase domestic lending by ¥4 trillion by 2016, raising its target by a third as the Tokyo Olympics and Abe’s stimulus policies prompt big companies to borrow. Smaller firms, which employ about two-thirds of Japan’s workers, are more hesitant to boost spending because their slimmer balance sheets make them more vulnerable to swings in the economic cycle.

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