April 1, 2014 4:16 am JST

Japanese banks the world's healthiest: incoming bank lobby chief

TOKYO -- Japan's financial institutions are more sound than any other country's, Nobuyuki Hirano, incoming chairman of the Japanese Bankers Association, told The Nikkei in an interview.

     He also asserted that there are significant differences between the current economic situation, with the sales tax hike taking effect Tuesday, and the period after the last such increase in 1997, when Japan was dealing with a financial crisis.

     Hirano, the president of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, will officially take over as the bank lobby's chair Tuesday.

     On Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic policy package, known as Abenomics, he said: "It's had the results we anticipated. Demand for funds is spreading from large companies to small and midsize businesses, and lending is growing for not only working funds, but also capital spending."

     "It's the duty of financial institutions to support business and the real economy," Hirano stressed. "Measures to spur the revitalization and growth of small businesses are necessary."

     "We'll do everything we can, such as lending in growth fields," he said.