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Provisional Translation

Press Conference by SUZUKI Shunichi, Minister of Finance and Minister of State for Financial Services


(Friday, September 22, 2023, 11:02 am to 11:11 am)


I have a question about the program of virtually interest-free and unsecured loans, or "zero-zero loans." According to Tokyo Shoko Research, the number of corporate bankruptcies increased for the 17th straight month. Most of the businesses who obtained a zero-zero loan amid the COVID-19 pandemic are now required to start paying it back. There are some who see the increased bankruptcies as a consequence of the program. So, what do you think the government should offer for them as appropriate support? Would you let us know what your own view is?


Zero-zero loans were provided by public- and private-sector financial institutions. Most of the debtors are now required to start paying them back. For other support programs offered amid the pandemic, the terms are also expiring. In addition, higher inflation rates and a shortage of labor have a significant impact on a great number of businesses, who are left in continued tough conditions. I am fully aware of that.
Under such conditions, the government should offer businesses support in their cash flow management in a manner relevant to changing economic conditions, and provide small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) eager to take on new challenges with enhanced support in their management improvement and business turnaround. That is critical in my view.
From this viewpoint, the Ministry of Finance, the FSA, and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) formulated a support package program for SMEs facing challenges, which we announced on August 30, in our joint names. We are asking and encouraging public- and private-sector financial institutions to work even more resolutely and provide business operators with support based on the package.

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