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Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008

Japan, U.S. biz leaders optimistic

Staff writer

In an apparent effort to check the slide in business sentiment in the face of the global economic crisis, Japanese and U.S. business leaders sounded an optimistic note Tuesday at the end of a two-day meeting in Tokyo.

"The Japanese financial system is in extremely strong shape since sorting out most of the bad loans of the past 10 years or so," Junichi Ujiie, chairman of Nomura Holdings Inc., told a news conference. "Although (the financial turmoil) will have some negative impact on the global economy, the Japanese economy will be little affected."

Other executives agreed.

Jeffrey B. Kindler, chairman and CEO of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., said he was encouraged to see the world's central banks coming together to address the situation.

Hiromasa Yonekura, president of Sumitomo Chemical Co., predicted that U.S. housing prices will stabilize within a year and stock markets will settle down in three to four months.

Yonekura noted that emerging economies, especially China, remain strong, and that Japan has some bright spots as well.

"The Japanese economy has been notably resilient thanks to its world-beating energy efficiency," Yonekura said.

Though on the whole optimistic, the business leaders avoided Pollyannaism.

"The extraordinary developments originating in the U.S. credit crisis are heavily impacting all aspects of the U.S., Japanese and global financial markets," the leaders said in a joint statement.

They called for fundamental reform of the U.S. financial system, and urged Washington to act swiftly to resolve the crisis to minimize further domestic and global economic instability.

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The Japan Times

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