Bank of Japan governor Toshihiko Fukui pledged to work with the government to rebuild a financial system that he said was in a "severe state" because of bad loans and plunging stock prices.
"We would like to work with the government, and as the central bank we will implement steps to stabilize the country's financial system," Fukui said in a speech to the bank's branch managers.
He said the bank would spell out details of a plan to buy corporate debt ``as soon as possible.''
The central bank this month said it might buy asset-backed securities to give companies an alternative source of financing to bank lending, which has fallen for six years as banks struggle to write off bad loans estimated at ¥52.4 trillion (US$438 billion).
Fukui, who was inaugurated on March 20, is looking for new ways to pull Japan out of a 12-year slump. His predecessor, Masaru Hayami, cut interest rates almost to zero in March 2001 and tripled purchases of bonds from banks to Y1.2 trillion a month.
Such steps haven't reversed a five-year drop in consumer prices that has sapped corporate profits and inflated the value of debt. Nor have they kept share prices from plunging. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 28 percent in the fiscal year to March 31, inflicting losses on banks such as Mizuho Financial Group Inc.
Politicians are pressing Fukui to do more. Last week, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's economic panel urged the bank to prop up share prices by financing a private agency that would buy stock. It also asked the bank to buy real-estate investment trusts and exchange-traded funds.
The state of the world's second-largest largest economy is "flat in general," Fukui said. The bank sees "strong uncertainty" about the overseas economy and the effects of the Iraq war.
Financial markets have been stable even after the March 31 fiscal year-end, when banks had to account for losses on investments, because the central bank has taken steps to provide liquidity, he said.
Heads of the central bank's 32 branches nationwide and offices in London, New York and Hong Kong are meeting in Tokyo to report on their regional economies.
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