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Five citizens’ groups jointly filed criminal complaints Friday with police in 15 prefectures against hundreds of moneylenders they accuse of charging illegally high interest and using strong-arm tactics to collect debts.

In Tokyo alone complaints were filed against 300 moneylenders, and the total is estimated at more than 1,000 nationwide, members of the groups said.

According to the complaints, many of the moneylenders charge interest of 50 percent per 10 days, or 1,825 percent a year, which is more than 50 times the legal limit. Some charge more than 100 times the limit, they said.

The groups said debtors have received death threats and threats to torch their homes.

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