TOKYO - Japanese banks this week were expected to follow low the lead of Sanwa Bank Ltd., which announced on Friday a 0.2 percentage point cut in its short-term prime rate, to 4.55%, effective Wednesday.

Sanwa's reduction came amid pressure from government and Bank of Japan officials. But its small size - less than the customary minimum of 25 basis points - was seen as a signal that the bankers want to see a steeper discount rate cut.

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