Updated from 2:23 a.m. EDTMitsubishi UFJ Financial Group ( MTU), Japan's biggest bank by assets, plans to slash 1,000 jobs and close about 50 branches over the next three years. Its core unit, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, will close 50 domestic branches, eliminate 200 ATM locations and reduce its payroll by 1,000 positions through natural attrition over the next three years, said company spokesman Takashi Miwa. It has already closed about 70 branches and now operates about 670 outlets. The bank also will transfer another 1,000 employees from its headquarters in Tokyo to local branches. The combined moves will lower headcount at the bank's main office by a third, Miwa said. The bank has been streamlining domestic operations since January 2006, when it was created through a merger between the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UFJ Bank. The latest reductions are part of the ongoing post-merger consolidation rather than a reaction to deteriorating profits, Miwa said. In February, Mitsubishi UFJ reported a loss of 42 billion yen for the nine months ended in December on higher credit costs and losses on securities holdings. The bank also lowered earnings estimates for the year ending March 31 to 50 billion yen from a previous forecast of 220 billion yen.