The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it is a time of review for Japanese companies though most of them are planning to stay in Hong Kong. The Japanese Consulate in a survey of 496 members of the chamber, found 63 per cent of participants planned to maintain their present size while 25 per cent intended to expand their businesses in the next three years. It said 10 per cent planned to cut back operations while the remainder - numbering eight firms including five in the financial sector - were planning to leave Hong Kong. About 50 companies, including 13 in sales and 11 in the finance sector, want to withdraw part of their operations. Only one of the 87 financial institutions surveyed expressed an intention to expand. The Japanese Consulate declined to reveal the names of the retreating companies. Consulate head of Economic Affairs Hideyuki Mitsuoka said out of 60 Japanese banks in Hong Kong, the larger banks would stay but some smaller regional banks had started to leave. Mr Mitsuoka said Hokkaido Takashoku Bank, Hokuriku Bank, Suruga Bank and Fukui Bank had left Hong Kong. Another regional bank, Mie Bank, is planning to close down its Hong Kong office soon. About 103 firms included in the survey cut staff between last July and March this year, while 87 firms increased in size. The surveyed companies lost 97 Japanese staff in total while they added 300 local workers. Only sales, transportation and warehousing industries have increased staff while all other sectors have cut their workforce. Sales companies laid off 41 Japanese staff while recruiting 312 locals. The chamber's secretary-general Hiroshi Matsui said the chamber suffered a membership drop for the first time since its establishment in 1969. The chamber has 760 members compared with 780 in May last year. Mr Matsui said some companies had left or stopped paying membership fees as a cost-cutting exercise. The majority of respondents cited the Hong Kong economy as the reason for cutbacks. But a majority of financial institutions said the main reason for cutbacks was the situation in their headquarters in Japan or the state of the Japanese economy.