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Japan Railway Construction Public Corp. has taken over 1,273 hectares of land that remained unsold when JNR Settlements Corp. ended its 11-year history last week.The public corporation hopes to sell off the property by fiscal 2003 to help reduce 28.3 trillion yen in debts left behind by the defunct Japanese National Railways. But informed sources say that finding buyers for the land may be impossible unless the national economy gets back on track.When JNR Settlements was established in 1987, the semigovernmental body inherited 9,245 hectares of land from the JNR to tame the huge debts accumulated by the firm, which was split into seven Japanese Railway companies.JNR Settlements tried to reduce the debts by selling JNR assets such as real estate and shares in the JR firms, and over the past 11 years the corporation has sold 7,972 hectares of land for 6.51 trillion yen.The former JNR-owned tracts of land sold off to private business include the old site of the Shiodome freight station yard close to JR Shimbashi Station in Tokyo, as well as the former JNR head office in front of JR Tokyo Station.Close to Hokkaido University, a 10-minute walk from JR Sapporo Station, sprawls an empty 9,000-sq.-meter lot, the former home of the JNR Sapporo Works Bureau. JNR Settlements solicited offers on the land in January, but the one construction company that responded failed to win the bid because its offer fell short of the expected minimum price of 950 million yen.Since Hokkaido Takushoku Bank went bankrupt late last year, the Hokkaido economy has worsened rapidly, making it less likely that any other company will be able to purchase the property, informed sources said. Housing Loan collects 1.25 trillion yen.More than 30 percent of some 4.1 trillion yen in failed loans have been collected by a housing-loan recovery firm backed by the government since it began operations two years ago, the corporation said Thursday.Housing Loan Administration Corp., set up in October 1996 after the fiasco over the failed “jusen” mortgage lenders, has taken over the bad loans of seven such firms that went bankrupt after their huge property loans became irrecoverable.During the two years, the corporation has recovered 1.25 trillion yen of the loans, Kohei Nakabo, president of the recovery body, told a news conference. The corporation recovered loans worth 337.1 billion yen in the first half of fiscal 1998, which ended Sept. 30, exceeding the 303.6 billion yen target by 33.5 billion yen, Nakabo said. “Although the figure for the first half of this fiscal year is better than expected, it is lower than that of the last midterm,” he said. “Under the current stagnant economic situation, we will have to reconsider our loan-recovery strategy.”

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