Foreign investors should target the Japanese market now or risk missing one of the most important opportunities of the next decade, according to Jardine Fleming Investment Management's Asian marketing head, Michael Yuen. The recent foreign-led run-up in Japan's stock markets was merely a trickle compared with funds to come. 'The message for investors is: don't wait for the big money to come in,' Mr Yuen said. 'I think not investing in Japan for the 21st century will be a big mistake.' The Nikkei-225 Index yesterday fell 233.83 points to close at 16,743.18, although it has recently enjoyed solid gains. Mr Yuen said the Nikkei would reach 20,000 points in the next 12 months. Most of the bad economic news appeared to have been priced in, and the systematic failure of the country's financial sector had receded. Banks were increasingly taking advantage of public funds set aside to bail out or nationalise troubled banks. Companies, such as Sanyo Electric and Toshiba Corp, had also been forced to throw out tradition in the face of the Asian crisis by changing their corporate cultures to those resembling firms in the United States. This involved restructuring - the new buzz word in Japan - Mr Yuen said. 'Many Japanese corporations have now given up waiting for the government to come to their rescue and are breaking with tradition to survive,' he said. 'They have a new management style,' he said. 'Very much like the American style. That's getting the ball rolling.' Mr Yuen said about half of all listed Japanese companies were trading at less than their book value, and the share prices were good value compared with counterparts in other markets. The yen was expected to continue to weaken, further benefiting exporters. Nevertheless, Mr Yuen conceded there were risks. 'We look at the downside [of Japan] as limited,' Mr Yuen said. 'But Japan has not shown it's on a clear path to recovery . . . politically, they don't have a clear majority in the house and they are probably under pressure not to carry on with economic reform.' With the Japanese economy in the doldrums for nine years, however, the private sector was committed to pushing for reform, he said.