Three former executives of UFJ Bank, Japan's fourth largest, have been arrested on suspicion of obstructing government inspectors. The trio allegedly destroyed or changed documents that investigators wanted to see while probing allegations that the bank lied about its bad-debt portfolio.

Prosecutors have raided UFJ twice since October as part of their criminal investigation.

Analysts say the case should not affect UFJ's plan to merge with the Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group. Another rival, Sumitomo Mitsui, is also trying to force a merger with UFJ.

With the Japanese yen approaching its highest level against the dollar in five years, there is increasing speculation on what Tokyo will do.

Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki says talks with European finance officials are "not necessarily" preparation for joint action to limit the dollar's slide.

Mamoru Yamazaki is the chief economist in Japan for the investment bank Barclays Capital. He said if the yen rises toward 90 to the dollar, financial authorities here would take action. "Japanese government will intervene in the market to keep the yen at a certain level, so the U.S. dollar and Japanese yen may be over 90 or 95 [yen to the dollar]," he said.

Internet investor Softbank says it has reached a deal to buy a professional baseball team from the struggling retailer Daiei.

Softbank says it is taking a 98 percent stake in the Hawks, based in the city of Fukuoka. The company says the price is about $50 million.

Last month, Internet shopping site Rakuten received permission from Japan's professional baseball organization to start a new team.

In one of the first crackdowns in Japan on Internet file sharing, a 42-year-old man has been handed a three-year suspended prison sentenced.

Yoshihiro Inoue was convicted in Kyoto District Court of violating the copyright law. He was arrested a year ago for putting two Hollywood movies on the Internet, using a file-sharing program called Winny.

Also charged in the case is a Tokyo University instructor who developed the Winny software. A 19-year-old man has already been convicted and given a suspended sentence in connection with Winny.