Prosecutors on Monday demanded an 18-month prison term for a former employee of nonbank moneylender Nichiei Co. for suggesting that a customer sell body parts to repay a loan.
Earlier in the hearing, at the Tokyo District Court, Eisuke Arai, 25, pleaded guilty to the charges and tearfully apologized to the plaintiff.
“If I was not able to fulfill my quota, my boss yelled at me,” Arai said, adding that Nichiei President Kazuo Matsuda was one of those who reprimanded him. “It was not unusual for collectors to yell at guarantors to force them to make repayments.”
Arai also revealed that it was a Nichiei policy to loan as much money as possible to a borrower, have him or her pay the interest on the loan and rely on guarantors to repay the principal.
Nichiei President Kazuo Matsuda, 77, had earlier said that he never met or talked to Arai and denied that the company was systematically involved in the use of force to get borrowers to repay loans.
According to the indictment, Arai harassed a 62-year-old man in Chiba city who had guaranteed a loan worth about 11.5 million yen.
Arai phoned the man more than 10 times between April and June 1998 and told him that he could earn 3 million yen by selling a kidney or 1 million yen for an eye, it said.
The defendant reportedly said he would leave the man alone if he could not earn enough by selling his body parts, prosecutors said.
Arai also refused a request from the guarantor for a court to mediate in the loan case because he wanted his figures for collecting loans to be higher, prosecutors said.
Nichiei and other companies offering “shoko” loans have recently come under fire due to allegations of aggressive loan collection tactics and high interest charges. Nichiei is Japan’s largest shoko loan company.
The allegedly unscrupulous methods used by shoko loan nonbank moneylenders forced the government to revise finance laws in the recent Diet session and cut the interest rate ceiling from about 40 percent to 30 percent.
The court will pass sentence on Arai on Jan. 18.
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