Japanese Islamic banking seminar underway

24 January 2007

Japan's first national seminar on Islamic banking is taking place in Tokyo this week, with Japanese bankers being encouraged to take advantage of the growing niche industry.

The two-day seminar, entitled Islamic Finance: Challenges and Opportunities for Japan, attracted around 200 participants from the country's banking industry, with opportunities in Malaysia the focus of attention.

The government-linked Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) is planning to issue up to $500 million worth of Islamic bonds (also called 'Sukuk') in Malaysia - the first Japanese bank to do so.

In a speech at the seminar, the Islamic Financial Services Board's secretary general Professor Rifaat Ahmed Abdel Karim welcomed the JBIC's move, saying that he hoped it would "blaze a trail" for other Japanese corporations.

"The proposed issuance of Sukuk, would rank as the first sovereign Islamic issue by any major G8 country, enhancing the Islamic financial services industry's potential for increased globalization, as well as its integration into the global financial system," he said.

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