Great article from the WSJ on how super-low rates have reduced loan revenue to a point where small local Japanese banks are diversifying into farming, pinball, broadcasting, rice cultivation and blueberry jam.
It’s tough being a small-bank operator in Japan. Customers are rapidly aging. Companies are stockpiling cash rather than borrowing. Big Japanese banks are seeking growth in the U.S. and elsewhere, but that’s far beyond the means of smaller banks such as Mr. Tsuchiya’s. Some other smaller lenders have branched out, too, including one that offers a special interest rate to elderly people who can certify they recently gave up their driver's licenses. Another calls itself Tomato Bank.