The Japanese supervisory body has allowed banks under its watch to engage in so-called Islamic finance at their overseas branches starting this month. It was previously allowed only at their subsidiaries. Acting early will further secure Japan's rightful place as a leading financial market in a fast evolving global system. It will also strengthen links with the Middle East and Southeast Asia -- two of Japan's fastest growing export markets.
The recent decision by South Korea's central bank to join the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), one of the main standard-setting bodies for Islamic finance, as well as Japan's Bank for International Cooperation’s proposal to issue ringgit sukuk shows a second wave of interest in Islamic Finance for the East Asian economic powerhouses.
Tokio Marine Middle East Ltd, the Dubai-based regional hub of Japanese insurance giant Tokio Marine, plans to launch its new Saudi joint venture which will spearhead its activities in the Kingdom and beyond.
Ajmal Bhatty, President and CEO, Tokio Marine Middle East Limited, confirmed to Saudi Gazette that the Alinma Tokio Marine KSA, the joint venture between Tokio Marine Middle East; Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), the world’s largest petrochemicals exporter; Saudi Arabia’s Alinma Bank; and some local smaller investors, will start operations very soon. The new company is capitalized at SR100 million.
Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd (MHCB), one of the oldest banks in Japan, will make Malaysia its global hub for Islamic finance once it receives Bank Negara Malaysia's (BNM) approval.
MHCB, part of Mizuho Financial Group Inc, is one of the world's largest full-service financial conglomerates.
Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, a unit of Japan's largest property-casualty insurance firm MS&AD , said on Wednesday it may buy a stake in Malaysia's Hong Leong Tokio Marine Takaful to tap growing demand for Islamic insurance.
The move comes as its Japanese rival Tokio Marine & Nichido said it is considering selling its 35 percent stake in the Islamic insurer to Hong Leong to end its partnership over strategic differences. Tokio Marine & Nichido is a unit of Tokio Marine Holdings .
Japan will alter regulations to give foreign investors tax breaks on sharia bond dividends, the latest country to pursue Islamic finance to woo investors demanding sharia-compliant assets.
Islamic bond dividends received by foreign investors may be declared tax-free as early as end-2011.