Bad loans

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Non-performing loans at Japan's 21 leading banks swelled by at least 50 per cent to Y12,000bn (dollars 99 billion) in the six months to 30 September. The Finance Ministry says that such loans, whose principal and interest payments have been delayed for more than six months, totalled Y7,000bn to Y8,000bn at the end of March.

The banks' problems reflect the collapse of property and financial companies, victims of the steady fall in stock and real estate prices.