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Japanese Corporate Sentiment Improves Slightly - 2002-10-04

According to the Bank of Japan's quarterly Tankan survey, confidence among Japanese executives reached an 18-month high in the July-to-September quarter.

However, the uptick was small, reflecting widespread gloom over the fragile condition of the world's second largest economy. The report was released just as Japan's Nikkei Stock Market average closed at another 19-year low, indicating declining confidence that the economy can be turned around in the near future.

After the survey results were released, Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa said that while they show a slight improvement, the economic recovery lacks momentum.

The Tankan survey indicates that executives remain focused on cutting capital spending, and predict only small improvements in business conditions by the end of the year.

NTT DoCoMo, Japan's top mobile phone carrier, will post a loss of $4.7 billion in the first half of the year.

The losses are due to several overseas investments that have suffered because of the slowdown in the global telecoms market. They include stakes in AT&T Wireless of the United States, KPN Mobile of the Netherlands, and Hutchison 3G of Britain.

DoCoMo's president Keiji Tachikawa says the company is committed to overseas expansion and said it takes a long-term perspective.

DoCoMo lost almost $7 billion last year on its foreign holdings, which nearly wiped out profits from its highly successful domestic service.

A holding company called Japan Airlines System was officially established Wednesday and is now the largest carrier in Asia. It will have Japan Airlines and Japan Air System under its wing until the two airlines are fully merged and reorganized into international, domestic and cargo service companies by early 2004.

The company says it aims to regain a majority share in the domestic market, where its rival All Nippon Airways currently dominates.