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Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Friday, 18 January 2013

Are Japan's companies 'in retreat'?

Sony, the electronics and entrainment giant, is selling a skyscraper on Madison Avenue that was bought from AT&T in 1992 towards the end of a wave of trophy properties bought by Japanese firms which included movie studios, the Rockefeller Centre and famous US golf resort Pebble Beach.

But around that time the bubble burst - and Japan went into a lost two decades of stagnant growth - which if anything has been getting worse.

Sharp had to pledge its own headquarters as collateral for loans and Japanese firms have racked up losses in the last few years which more than overshadow the previous 18 years.

Jonathan Allum, an investment strategist who has been following Japan for 30 years, explained to Today business presenter Simon Jack that "these companies clearly are in retreat... but to extrapolate some more general theory of social economic decline, is perhaps pushing the theory a bit far."

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