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In banks across Japan sits a pile of money that’s bigger than most countries’ gross domestic product — the cash reserves of the nation’s companies. For some it’s a testament to their strength, but to many it’s a wasted opportunity.

Firms listed in Japan held ¥506.4 trillion in cash as of their latest filings, the highest level on record, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It’s more than tripled since March 2013, months after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power vowing to stamp out cash-hoarding.

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