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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Trading on Japan's Nasdaq Takes Off




TOKYO -- Japan's version of the technology-oriented Nasdaq Stock Market made a high-profile debut Monday, with investors getting the chance to bid on eight companies including an Internet service provider, a video game distributor and a drugstore chain.


Hopes are high that Nasdaq Japan will encourage venture businesses f especially "new economy" startups f in a risk-adverse culture where entrepreneurs often struggle to find financial backers.


The Osaka-based market also expands options for Japanese investors, who by next year will be able to trade electronically 24 hours a day and even dabble in stocks listed on the Nasdaq market in the United States.


"We are about to start a very, very important step in the world's financial activities," said Nasdaq chairman Frank Zarb at a ceremony shortly before the beginning of trading.


But living up to the reputation of its U.S. namesake may not be easy for the joint venture between Nasdaq's U.S. parent and the Japanese investment company Softbank Corp.


The market is making its debut at a time when investors in Japan are losing their once-insatiable appetite for technology and Internet shares.


Put off by the dizzying declines of dot.coms on Wall Street, investors have been reshuffling their portfolios to include more low-priced, low-tech issues.


"It's not a very good investment climate," said Shoji Hirakawa, strategist at Kokusai Securities Co. "With those kinds of stocks on a downtrend the market's attention is focused on the risks."


The global pullback by technology issues has dealt a blow to another Japanese bourse for venture business that started trading amid fanfare in December.


Seven of the 10 companies listed on that market are now trading below their initial asking price.


But investors gave a generally warm reception Monday morning to shares on Nasdaq Japan, shrugging off a retreat overnight by U.S. technology issues.


Nasdaq Japan offers startups less stringent listing requirements than those imposed by established exchanges in this country.


It plans to list more than 100 companies over the next year, with an average of about 10 companies each month, said spokesman Koji Aoki.