Many Japanese stock brokers are struggling with poor earnings as commissions fall. VOA's Amy Bickers reports from Tokyo on this and other leading Japanese business stories.

Nomura Holdings, Japan's largest broker, has posted weak results along with its top two rivals. Nomura's group net profit for the last fiscal year plummeted 43-percent from the prior 12-months.

Finance Director Kenichi Watanabe, told reporters that his company will need to continue expanding operations that will not be affected by the [volatility] of the Japanese stock market.

The firm blames its $800 million loss on a fall in brokerage commissions and lower revenues from trading on its own accounts. But Nomura's merchant banking division has reported strong profits. The sale of a London pub chain and other companies it owned will help offset the company's losses.

Japan's number-two and three brokers, Daiwa Securities and Nikko Cordial, also reported substantial losses.

In another development, Aeon, the country's second largest retailer, has unveiled a plan to tie up with drugstore chain Terashima. Under the terms of the deal, Aeon will acquire a 20-percent stake in the firm, which is well-known in Northern Japan. Once the deal is completed, Aeon will own 1,600 drugstores nationwide.

Worldwide orders for Japanese computer-chip manufacturing equipment are finally showing signs of recovery after a 15-month slump. The Japanese Semiconductor Equipment Association reports that orders grew 26-percent in March from the same period last year. The improvement is due to the increasing demand for chips used in consumer electronics.

But analysts say the order outlook remains uncertain, even though the recovery in the global electronics sector is gaining speed.