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Japan Financials' Subprime Losses at $8 billion

Losses from investments tied to the U.S. subprime-mortgage market cost Japanese financial firms about $8 billion as of the end of March, Japan's financial regulator said on Friday, up 42 percent from December.

Total exposure to subprime-related investments came to 1 trillion yen ($9.4 billion) as of the same period, down a third from three months earlier, the Financial Services Agency said.

Although many Japanese firms have avoided the subprime damage that tore through global rivals such as UBS and Merrill Lynch, some of Tokyo's biggest banks have been heavily bruised.

Mizuho Financial, Japan's second-largest lender, lost 645 billion yen ($6.1 billion) on subprime-related investments in the year to March, with almost half of that in the January-March quarter.

Japanese financials lost 850 billion yen ($8 billion) as of the end of March, the FSA said, compared with 600 billion as of the end of December.

Large Japanese banks had subprime-related losses of 775 billion yen as of the end of March and held subprime-related investments worth 933 billion yen.