Tokyo To The Banks: "Can You Spare $75 Billion?"

As recovery lags, the government turns to private lenders

There are already plenty of ways to measure just how deeply in hock Japan is. It is one of the most heavily indebted industrialized nations. Its national debt equals its gross domestic product, compared with half of GDP for the U.S. Now there's a new standard. For only the second time in five decades, Tokyo will borrow money from private banks to aid cash-strapped local administrations. After taking a modest $1.35 billion loan in 1998, the government is planning to ask banks for $75 billion this year--more than Singapore's GDP and roughly the same amount that Tokyo injected into the nation's top 15 banks last year.

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