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Bad loans manageable at Okinawa’s three main banks, no mergers expected

Date Posted: 1998-10-09

The total amount of non-performing loans at the three main banks in Okinawa was ¥19,510,000,000 as of March this year, according to numbers released by the banks.

The Bank of the Ryukyus has about one half of the total in its books while the Bank of Okinawa shoulders ¥54,000,000,000 and the Kaiho Bank is burdened with ¥16,900,000,000 in bad loans. The management of each banks regards the situation as manageable. Yukio Matsumoto, the president of the Bank of the Ryukyus assures that "As far as our bank is concerned, we have almost solved our bad debt problem."

Some experts have recommended that Okinawan banks should merge in the face of the liberalization of the banking sector in Japan, sometimes called the "Big Bang." The idea is not a new one. A professor at the Meio University says that he recommended similar merger already in the 1960 when the prefecture was getting ready for the reversion and big mainland banks were feared to enter into the prefecture and put local banks out of the business.

The management at each three bank say that they have no intention of merging with someone else. They also point out that such a merger would be very difficult because of incompatible computer systems. A merger also would mean closing branch offices and laying off employees.

Hidetomo Kojo, the president of Kaiho Bank, thinks he sums it up to all when he says that "I think the best advise is to leave each bank on its own."

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