Pressured evictions land real estate execs in jail

Kyodo News

Tokyo police arrested the president and nine senior officials of an Osaka-based real estate company Tuesday for allegedly pressuring tenants of a building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, to vacate without legal authority.

Police arrested Koyojitsugyo President Hiroshi Asaji, 59, and nine senior officials for allegedly negotiating evictions even though they are not lawyers.

Several locations related to the case, including Koyojitsugyo, were searched. Police have obtained arrest warrants for several other people and are hunting for them.

Police suspect Asaji and the officials negotiated the evictions at the request of Yokohama-based real estate company Suruga Corp., the building’s owner. Suruga is listed on the second section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Koyojitsugyo is believed to have links to a group affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest underworld syndicate. Police are looking into the flow of money and the background of the case.

According to the investigation, Suruga took ownership of the building in September 2005. Koyojitsugyo was put in charge of managing the building and allegedly was paid for legal services, including negotiating evictions with tenants without the necessary qualifications, police officials said.

The building was demolished last September and ownership of the lot has been transferred to a trust bank.

According to a credit checking firm, Suruga was established in 1972 with about ¥13.9 billion in capital. It had about ¥79 billion in sales the business year ended last March.

Suruga executives include a former police official who served as a head of an organized crime squad and a former senior prosecutor.