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Friday, February 12, 2010

Japan Plans $1.1 Billion Nuclear, Electric-Car Loans

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s cabinet endorsed planned legislation to offer 100 billion ($1.1 billion) in low-interest loans to developers of electric cars and solar and nuclear power.

The government will offer financing at rates about 0.2 to 0.3 percentage point lower than ordinary commercial loans to developers of photovoltaic cells, lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, and nuclear reactors, Tetsuya Hamabe, the director of the trade ministry’s industrial finance division, told reporters in Tokyo today.

Japan wants to speed the development of next-generation clean energy technology amid an intensifying global race to capture the biggest share of the market for less-polluting power generators and vehicles. The move comes after U.S. President Barack Obama proposed tripling federal loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants to $54 billion.

One hundred billion yen will be offered in the fiscal year starting April 1, and that figure should expand to several hundred billion in coming years, Hamabe said. The loans will help create jobs and achieve sustainable economic growth, he said.

The bill will be submitted to the regular Diet session running through the middle of June. The ministries of trade, agriculture and transportation will decide who is eligible if the legislation is passed, Hamabe said.

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