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Major Japanese Banks See Earnings Rebound - 2003-11-28


Japan's major banks have seen earnings rebound and China's largest drug maker is entering the Japanese market.

Japan's four largest banks have returned to profitability following years of losses. All four posted strong profits for the first half of the year, thanks to rising stock prices.

Japanese banks have large stock holdings, so the 28 percent rise in blue chip stock prices since April has boosted their earnings.

A special tax refund from the Tokyo municipal government also helped.

Mizuho Financial Group, the country's largest bank, earned $2.3 billion in the first half, more than a sixfold rise from the same period a year earlier. UFJ Holdings, the smallest of the four, doubled its profit to $1.6 billion.

Together, the four banks have earnings of $8 billion, nine percent higher than earlier projections.

Mizuho President Terunobu Maeda told reporters that he expects to see steady growth for the full year.

He says his company is working on introducing new services to attract customers.

One bank is still struggling: The nation's fifth-largest, Resona Holdings, lost $16 billion for the first six months of the year.

Toyota Motor, Japan's largest carmaker, says it is very disappointed with the recent verdict in a trademark lawsuit in China.

Toyota lost the suit Monday against the Geely Group, China's largest private carmaker. Toyota had accused the Chinese company of using a logo on its cars that is very similar to Toyota's T-shaped icon. The Japanese carmaker says it is unsure whether it will appeal the decision. The suit was closely monitored by many foreign companies concerned about copyright protection on the mainland.

Despite the verdict, Toyota will move forward with plans to invest $2.5 billion in China over the next six years.

A Chinese maker of traditional herbal medicine is looking for more ways to reach the lucrative Japanese market. Sanjiu Enterprise Group, China's biggest pharmaceutical firm, has formed a joint venture with Japanese trading house Itochu.

Under the agreement, they will produce Chinese herbal extracts to sell in Japan to companies that manufacture Chinese medicine. Sanjiu already has a deal with a drugstore operator in eastern Japan but wants to increase its toehold throughout the country, where a rapidly aging population is likely to translate into more sales for drug makers.

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