3/11 survivor liens may be canceled


Lenders are thinking about canceling liens on residential land to facilitate the relocation of people who lost their homes in the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Under the idea, regional banks and other local financial institutions in afflicted areas will give up their claims on the land secured for housing loan repayments by the disaster victims. The borrowers will be asked to repay the loans with the proceeds from selling their property to their municipality.

Japanese Bankers Association Chairman Yasuhiro Sato said Thursday the industry will help affected people move smoothly from tsunami-hit areas.

Municipalities along the Pacific coast in northeastern and eastern Japan have devised collective relocation plans under which they will buy residential land from tsunami survivors so they can move to newly developed residential areas on higher ground.

Covered by these plans are some 30,000 homes in 276 districts in Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures.

If lenders cancel their liens on tracts owned by disaster victims, the owners will have more options in selling the property.

Key questions will include how to deal with remaining loans that borrowers cannot repay with their land sale proceeds.