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Japan Banks Won’t Forgive Tepco Loans, Lobby Chief Says

Japanese banks won’t forgive loans made to Tokyo Electric Power Co., the country’s banking lobby chief said, responding to a government official’s comments that creditors should help support the nuclear plant operator.

“We have repeatedly said we wouldn’t accept forgiveness of loans to Tepco if we are asked to do so,” Katsunori Nagayasu, head of the Japanese Bankers Association, said at a news conference in Tokyo today. “I believe the government wouldn’t let default of Tepco or forgiveness of loans happen.”

Yukio Edano, Japan’s new trade minister, said this week that Tokyo Electric creditors and shareholders should help pay for the costs associated with the nuclear accident at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. The government has set up an organization to support Tokyo Electric, known as Tepco, with 2 trillion yen ($26 billion) of funding.

Edano made similar remarks earlier this year in his previous role as chief government spokesman. Nagayasu and his predecessor Masayuki Oku said at the time that banks weren’t prepared to forgive loans to Tepco.

Nagayasu is also chief executive officer of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., one of the Japanese banks that lent about 2 trillion yen to the utility after a March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged reactors and caused a meltdown.

“We’ve given support to Tepco such as emergency loans after the disaster and will continue to do so,” Nagayasu said today. “The government’s measures such as formation of the third-party body to compensate victims, contain the nuclear crisis and maintain Japan’s power supply were taken based on the premise that a default of Tepco or a loan waiver won’t happen.”

Edano said in parliament today that it wouldn’t be “appropriate” to let Tepco go bankrupt.

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