Japan emerges from the shadows
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Japan emerges from the shadows

Japan has suffered 15 years of stagnation; a period in which an entire generation of financial innovation passed it by. Suddenly, investment bankers are licking their lips at the prospect of helping its financial markets play catch up. Some consider Japan a $500 trillion emerging market.

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EIGHTEEN MONTHS AGO, Brian Mccappin’s friends were worried about him. For some strange reason, the English investment banker had chosen to leave Citigroup’s all-conquering bond business in Europe to take up a new job as co-head of fixed income at Nikko Citigroup in Tokyo. His first task: to propel the firm into the top three dealers in Japanese government bonds. To his peers that sounded simultaneously demanding and dull – a uniquely dire combination.

“They told me I must be absolutely mad to leave Europe at that point in my career.”

In the 15-year stagnation since the Japanese bubble burst, the country has almost ceased to exist on the mental world map of an entire generation of investment bankers. The good news for Mccappin is that this neglect meant that his determined, rapid and rather un-Japanese restructuring of the Japanese fixed-income business produced speedy results.

Nikko Citigroup soon moved up the league tables of government bond dealers and primary market underwriters.

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