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Govt to help Japan Airlines rehabilitate

TOKYO, June 22 – Japan Airlines, Asia\’s largest carrier, will be given government help to rebuild its strength, cabinet ministers said on Monday, after it was hammered by falling demand caused by the global economic slump.

"The DBJ (Development Bank of Japan) will extend loans, not unconditionally, but on the premise that (the airline) must do its best to improve management," Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano told reporters.

He did not comment on the amount of possible funding for the firm.

Reports have said the state-backed DBJ is arranging a loan of about 100 billion yen (a billion dollars) in cooperation with major private firms Mizuho Corporate Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.

Yosano said Transport Minister Kazuyoshi Kaneko had asked him to "cooperate on crisis-management loans to JAL as the (transport) ministry will give it strong instructions on improving its management."

Kaneko told a separate press conference that JAL was "an extremely important company for our country\’s economy, society and people."

"It\’s unusual, but we have decided to take this action," he said, referring to his ministry\’s open pledge to supervise restructuring of a private company.

JAL has sought to borrow some 200 billion yen under a government programme of low-interest financing for cash-starved companies amid the global financial crisis, reports have said.

The 100 billion yen DBJ loan, the first tranche of that funding, would be extended by the end of June, the Jiji Press news agency said.

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The global economic downturn has dealt a heavy blow to JAL\’s efforts to recover from a long period of financial turbulence stretching back to its privatisation more than two decades ago.

The airline expects a net loss of 63 billion yen for the financial year that started in April after an annual net loss of 63.2 billion yen for the 12 months through March.

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