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Toyota Announces Biggest Ever Profit by Japanese Company - 2003-05-09

Toyota Motor Corporation announced on Thursday its pre-tax profits, which at $11.78 billion, are the highest ever recorded for a Japanese company.

This unprecedented good news comes the same week that lawmakers from Japan's governing coalition unveiled a package of proposals intended to boost the Tokyo stock market after it hit fresh 20-year lows.

In one proposal, policymakers want to invest more of the massive reserves of Japan's postal savings system into the market. Another proposal urges the Bank of Japan, the country's central bank, to raise the ceiling for buying shares in other banks weighed down by bad loans.

But opponents, including Economics Minister Heizo Takenaka, say artificial measures are not the answer. Mr. Takenaka says there should not be government intervention in the market. He says normal supply and demand should determine stock prices.

In other good profit news, the world's fourth largest cosmetic maker, Shiseido, posted a record profit for its fiscal year ending two straight years of losses. Shiseido's net profit was more than $200 million. The 131-year-old company says cost-cutting, new products and surging overseas sales helped the turnaround.

Shiseido spokeswoman Ryuko Shioya says popular products are its anti-aging creams, which are selling well both in Japan and overseas.

Video-game maker Sega says its merger with slot machine maker Sammy, scheduled for October, has fallen through. Analysts say mergers are increasing among gaming companies because costs for developing sophisticated new software keep going up and companies need partners to share the burden.

A U.S. investment fund has announced it will acquire a controlling stake in a Japanese auto-parts maker. Ripplewood Holdings says it will spend $37 million to buy 51 percent of shares in Asahi Tech, a maker of transmission cases and aluminum wheels. Ripplewood has been for several years an active investor in troubled Japanese companies.