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Japanese Electronic Makers Suffer Large Losses

Japan's five big electronics makers are reeling from large losses, but Japanese car manufacturer Honda reports record net profits. And, General Motors, the number one U.S. auto manufacturer, is paying $1.2 billion to take over South Korea's Daewoo Motor Company.

Top Executives at NEC, Toshiba, Fujitsu and Mitsubishi last week reported wide losses for the financial year that ended in March, but were quick to forecast better results for the current year.

Hitachi deputy vice president Yoshiki Yagi spoke of plans to boost profitability through restructuring. "We will aim to generate profits for 2003 by adopting a defensive approach towards restructuring. And we will take an offense approach by allying with other companies," he said.

Hitachi previously said it would cut over 20,000 jobs worldwide. Analysts warn Japan's electronics companies are paying dearly for delaying restructuring measures.

Sony's net income fell 96 percent due mainly to restructuring costs, but its annual group sales soared. Meanwhile car manufacturer Honda said a weaker yen helped boost its annual net profit to record levels.

In Korea the long awaited General Motors takeover of Daewoo is expected to boost the confidence of foreign investors in the South Korean economy.

Evidence of economic recovery in the region was seen in Taiwan last week, where industrial output and export orders for March exceeded expectations.

Despite signs of strong growth of the U.S. economy in the first quarter, analysts worry future demand for Asian imports, which fuel recovery in Asia, is not certain and the rebound in Asian exports to the United States may not last.