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By Nishant Kumar and Elzio Barreto
HONG KONG, March 20 (Reuters) - Government policies to help kickstart Japan's economy and tackle long-term deflation are creating hope for the country for the first time in 20 years, BlackRock Inc's Chairman and Chief Executive Laurence Fink said on Wednesday.
"The situation in Japan has changed. I am one of those who believe what Japan is doing, it might be on the right path," said Fink, who heads the world's largest asset manager, at the annual Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock index has rallied nearly 44 percent since mid-November on the back of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's aggressive fiscal and monetary expansion campaign to revive the world's third biggest economy.
The policies known as "Abenomics" have sparked a fall in the yen, making major exporters like Toyota Motor Corp more competitive. Toyota shares have leapt about 60 percent since November 15.
Top executives at Japanese companies are "pretty excited" about having opportunities to grow for the first time in a long time, Fink said.
"For the first time in many years they are going to be able to spend more money in research again," Fink said. "For me, this might be the first time in a long time when Japan can reboot itself."
Japan's decline over the last two decades has largely benefited South Korean companies, he said, after asking the audience how many people used Sony Corp. products now compared to years ago.
Fink has headed New York-based BlackRock since it was founded as a fixed-income oriented shop in 1988. Through a series of acquisitions and strong asset growth, he has helped build the firm into an industry titan with assets under management of around $3.8 trillion.