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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Japanese Leader Takes Aim At U.S. Economic Critics

TOKYO -- Japan's top financial diplomat, Eisuke Sakakibara, kept up his debate with U.S. critics Tuesday, arguing that Tokyo's financial crisis was nearly over while warning Washington against excessive optimism about its future.

Sakakibara - speaking only days after U.S. officials cast doubt on his assessment of the Japanese economy at a top business summit in Davos, Switzerland - said Japan's banking crisis would be over in a couple of weeks if regulators and bankers could work out plans for big infusions of public funds to top-tier banks.

"The only thing I'm optimistic about is the Japanese economy," Sakakibara said to laughter after stating worries about the global economy and rising trade friction at a symposium sponsored by the Institute for International Monetary Affairs.

"The financial crisis [in Japan] is over or ending. I think it will be over in one or two weeks," he said, adding that bank chiefs were meeting with the Financial Supervisory Agency to thrash out more drastic restructuring plans in return for public funds.

"If the FSA and the Financial Revitalization Commission can decide on firm capital infusions in about the next two weeks, I think we'll be able to say that Japan's financial crisis, at least, is over."

Sakakibara has been singing a similar tune for weeks, most recently at the gathering of world business executives and officials at Davos, where he said Japan's economy had hit bottom in November and December and was now headed for recovery.

Those assurances, however, were greeted with marked skepticism by senior U.S. Treasury Department officials and Vice President Al Gore.

"With due regard for the progress Japan has made, we - all the rest of us in the world - respectfully repeat to Japan ... please, we need your help to deal with the global economic crisis," Gore said on Friday.