Merrill Lynch's Japanese ABS research unit released its estimates of issuance for the 2004/2005 fiscal year ending March 31 last week. With many issuers and arrangers choosing not to disclose details of private placement offerings, making an accurate assessment of market volumes a precarious business in Japan.

However, using rating agency reports and investor circulars, Merrill says total issuance for the fiscal year reached 5.4 trillion ($50.7 billion), a 34% increase on the previous year. Most of the growth was generated by a sharp increase in MBS deals from bank issuers.

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