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JR companies defy US investor by boosting cross-shareholdings

Moves billed as building trust run counter to activist demands on governance

Bullet trains operated by JR East, JR West, JR Central and JR Kyushu. (Nikkei montage)

TOKYO -- The operators of Japan's famed bullet trains increased their mutual cross-shareholdings last fiscal year to strengthen their relationships, bucking a broad trend of unwinding such arrangements amid criticism from investors.

East Japan Railway, Central Japan Railway, West Japan Railway and Kyushu Railway had boosted their holdings of each other's stock by between double and well over triple their year-earlier levels at the end of March. These holdings covered about 1% of each company's outstanding shares, up from about 0.2%, and JR East, JR Central and JR West each held more than 1% of JR Kyushu.

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