Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
The bulk of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group’s up to $9.7 billion share issue will go to meet stricter capital requirements, but sources say the bank will use some money to hunt for more opportunities in Asia.
Asian expansion is increasingly important for Japanese lenders, saddled with low profit margins and few opportunities for growth at home. Sumitomo Mitsui already has stakes in Vietnam’s Eximbank, South Korea’s KB Financial and Hong Kong’s Bank of East Asia, and wants to benefit more from the region’s growing economies.
Less than 15 percent of Sumitomo Mitsui’s gross profit comes from overseas now, but it wants to raise that to as much as 30 percent in the next few years by focusing on Asia.
It’s a tall order. Unlike some major European commercial banks, such as HSBC and Standard Chartered, Japanese lenders don’t have a strong track record abroad, as the vast majority of their overseas operations are focused on servicing Japanese corporates.
Japan, perhaps the most nervous neighbor of unpredictable North Korea, is also the least able to overtly make its fears felt, after this week’s nuclear test.
Analysts point out the combination of Tokyo’s history of antagonism with the North and the fact that Pyongyang boasts missiles that could hit almost anywhere in Japan pose particular risks for the world’s second largest economy.
The creators of the World Baseball Classic envisioned a global tournament spread over at least two continents and multiple time zones, featuring the greatest players and national teams possible.
That baseball aim, largely achieved in the inaugural 2006 event and even more so this year, may not completely jibe with the all-Asian WBC final between Japan and South Korea in LA on Monday, but no fan of the sport’s finest would complain after an thrilling extra-inning game that ended in a 5-3 win to Japan.