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Japan's Aso urges financial institutions to ensure smooth financing amid virus fears

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso on Friday urged public and private financial institutions to step up efforts to ensure smooth corporate financing in the run-up to the fiscal year-end in March, amid rising concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

"I ask financial institutions to do the utmost to pay special consideration and flexibly respond to the needs of businesses so as to prevent the spreading coronavirus from causing serious trouble to their financing," Aso told reporters.

Aso made the remarks as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government plans to unveil further steps on March 10 to cope with the epidemic by tapping some 270 billion yen (2 billion pounds) left in the current fiscal year's budget reserve.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto and Daniel Leussink; Editing by Alex Richardson)