State lender’s entrepreneur loans in Tohoku surge

JIJI

The number of loans provided by Japan Finance Corp. to startups in the six prefectures in the disaster-hit Tohoku region grew 10.7 percent from the previous year to 1,123 in fiscal 2011, it was learned Thursday.

In the year that ended in March, such entrepreneurship support loans extended by the government lender across the nation dropped 8.2 percent on average.

The increase in Tohoku came as people affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami launched their own businesses.

“Loans to new businesses closely related to people’s everyday lives, including restaurants, increased substantially,” JFC Deputy Gov. Koichi Hosokawa said.

By prefecture, the number of such loans posted the biggest increase, of 42.1 percent, in Iwate, followed by 33.8 percent in Akita, 20.7 percent in Miyagi and 11.0 percent in Yamagata.

There were many cases in which licensed hairdressers and cooks started new shops in their hometowns or in Akita and Yamagata after their former workplaces were hit by the disaster, sources at JFC said. Iwate and Miyagi were heavily hit by the quake and tsunami, while damage was less severe in Akita and Yamagata.

Some others set up construction firms in anticipation of postdisaster reconstruction demand or launched used vehicle dealerships, the sources said.

Meanwhile, the number of loans dropped 13.9 percent in Fukushima Prefecture due to the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant.

The figure fell 6.3 percent in Aomori because the number of disaster victims who moved to the prefecture was relatively small.

JFC’s entrepreneurship support loans are provided to startups before and within one year after their launches. The loans also cover businesses that face difficulties receiving loans from private-sector banks due to their lack of sufficient records.