Japan loosens share buy-back rules

TOKYO, October 14, 2008 (AFP) – Japan’s government on Tuesday announced measures aimed at stabilising the ailing stock market, including a loosening of restrictions on companies buying back their own shares. The moves helped to fuel a powerful rally on the Tokyo stock market, which soared more than 12 percent in early trade as investors cheered government steps to try to ease the global financial crisis.

“The restriction on corporations’ purchases of their own stocks will be relaxed promptly, from the standpoint of stabilising the markets,” Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said in a statement.

Japan will consider freezing sales of government-held shares and imposing a requirement for stock exchanges to disclose more information on short selling, he said.

Nakagawa did not say how long the suspension of sales of government-held shares would continue but said he would ask the Bank of Japan to adopt a similar freeze.

The government will also consider extending government support for the life insurance industry to protect the interests of policyholders after the current safety net expires in March 2009.

Yamato Life Insurance on Friday filed for bankruptcy protection, becoming the first J