NEW YORK -- Despite record loan writeoffs in 1993 and two rounds of downgradings over the last couple of years, Japanese banks will still need several more years to clean up asset quality problems, according to Standard & Poor's Corp.

The bank troubles are attributable to an ongoing recession that has created record high numbers of nonperforming loans. | The recession has also forced many financial institutions to extend financial support to nonbank affiliates.

S&P estimates that the total amount of problem assets for the 23 banks the company tracks is $285 billion to $335 billion for the fiscal year that ended March 31.

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