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2013年3月27日 (水)

円滑化法終了へ 中小企業支援に万全を期せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 27, 2013)
Financial institutions must continue to aid smaller firms
円滑化法終了へ 中小企業支援に万全を期せ(3月26日付・読売社説)

A law allowing a grace period for financially ailing small and midsize companies to repay their debts will expire at the end of March.

The government must make an all-out effort to implement measures to avoid a sharp rise in the number of companies going bankrupt after the law expires.

The law was enforced in 2009 as a temporary step to cope with the economic downturn following the so-called Lehman shock.

It was extended twice, and is believed to have helped 300,000 to 400,000 small and midsize companies through such measures as rescheduling debt repayments. Under the severe economic circumstances, the legislation was somewhat effective in preventing smaller companies from going bankrupt.

On the other hand, however, it has had the negative effect of keeping alive companies with no prospect for reconstruction.

With the expiration of the law, it is believed 50,000 to 60,000 companies will be forced to drastically overhaul their businesses, discontinue operations or switch to other businesses. The nation must be ready for a certain amount of pain in regenerating industries to lay the groundwork for a strong Japanese economy.


Don't withdraw credit

But smaller companies that have shown a willingness and ability to reconstruct themselves should not be driven to the wall because of a strong reluctance to lend or an abrupt withdrawal of credit by financial institutions.

The Financial Services Agency has asked financial institutions to comply as much as possible with requests for a debt repayment moratorium, eased interest rate payments, and other steps. These suggestions are reasonable. The Cabinet Office and ministries concerned should strengthen their surveillance systems to avoid a credit crunch and other problematic situations.

It also deserves attention that the system to support the business revitalization of smaller companies has been expanded just before the law expires.

The Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation of Japan, which helped reconstruct Japan Airlines and other companies, was transformed by the government into the Regional Economy Vitalization Corporation of Japan, which focuses on assistance to smaller companies. Public funds for the organization have been increased from 300 billion yen to 1 trillion yen.


Self-help vital

In addition, the government hammered out a variety of steps, such as increasing lawyers and tax accountants at local turnaround support organizations to help microenterprises speed up their rehabilitation plans. It is reassuring that such a comprehensive system has been set up by the central government and local entities.

A major point is the role of financial institutions, which have detailed information on the financial conditions of their clients and are familiar with their management abilities. Financial institutions should closely cooperate with public organs and extend effective assistance.

However, everything depends on the self-help efforts by small and midsize companies. Given the shrinking domestic market because of the declining population and the rise of newly emerging economies, the business environment has become increasingly uncertain.

To extricate themselves from a deteriorating situation, some companies probably will have to advance into foreign countries to cultivate markets there or drastically change the way they do business. We hope companies find a way out of the difficult situation by effectively using supportive measures.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 26, 2013)
(2013年3月26日01時35分  読売新聞)


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