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Resona bans lending to those developing, making or possessing nuclear weapons

This screen capture shows a Resona statement prohibiting lending to entities that develop, produce or possess nuclear weapons.

TOKYO -- Resona Holdings Inc., a major financial group in Japan, has announced a policy of not extending loans to borrowers that are involved in the development, production or possession of nuclear weapons.

The statement, the first of its kind by a major Japanese banking institution, came amid similar moves by an increasing number of European banks and institutional investors following the adoption at the United Nations of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017.

Whether other Japanese corporations will follow Resona's action is a focus of attention for the future. There were other lenders banning loans for the production of nuclear weapons, but the Resona policy prohibits any loans to such companies even when such transactions are for non-nuclear related purposes.

The new posture was incorporated in a document titled "Efforts toward socially responsible investment and loans," which was announced in November last year. According to the paper, Resona refuses to lend to those that are associated with the development, production or possession of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, or inhuman weaponry including antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions. Entities that can be subject to relevant restrictions or sanctions, or even those with the potential to be hit with such punitive measures, will be rejected as borrowers, the document says.

An official with Resona, which has never lent to companies making nuclear weapons, explained that the banking group decided to introduce the policy "because we thought it important for providers of funds to make such efforts toward a sustainable society."

According to the Dutch nongovernmental organization PAX, 63 financial institutions had similar lending policies as of October 2017, an increase of nine from the previous year.

A Mainichi Shimbun poll of four Japanese mega banks -- Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Mizuho Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings -- as well as four major life insurance companies -- Nippon, Dai-ichi, Meiji Yasuda and Sumitomo -- found that all of the eight companies and groups have policies to refrain from lending and investment over inhuman weapons. Yet the entities did not specify the production of nuclear weapons as a condition to disengage from borrowers.

Officials at Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho replied that their companies ban loans to be used in the production of nuclear weapons, while a Mitsubishi UFJ official explained that the company is "making careful judgment in each transaction."

(Japanese original by Satoko Takeshita, Business News Department)

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