While Japan's securitization market started off the year with a wave of new asset-backed issues, its development thus far has been slowed by the lack of a domestic investor base for asset-backeds.

But as investors become more familiar with analyzing structured products, that's starting to change. Reflecting the growing demand for ABS, Japan's Sumitomo Life recently set up a 12-strong structured finance department in its Tokyo head office focusing on domestic asset-backed issues, said Nobuki Yasuda, senior staff manager of the department.

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