Information on properties up for public auction, currently only accessible at individual courthouses arranging the sales, will be posted on the Internet, Supreme Court officials said Tuesday.

Information on auction properties under the jurisdictions of the Tokyo and Osaka District courts has been accessible on the Internet since last year. The Supreme Court plans to expand the service to the Fukuoka and Sapporo District courts in fiscal 2003 and to put all such property data across Japan on the Net by summer 2004.

The Supreme Court’s Civil Affairs Bureau said it is also developing a system that will allow auction procedures to be managed by computer and progress inquiries to be made via the Web.

Simultaneously, it is unifying documentary formats used by the nation’s courts.

“Speedy and efficient auctions can be implemented through the provision of a full range of judicial services,” a bureau official said. “We hope this will be helpful with the disposal of bad loans.”

Over 70,000 real estate properties are put on public auction across Japan every year. However, there are many inconveniences in the current auction system, including the public only being able to obtain the property information at courthouses and troubles with inquiries from creditors as documents are put together in book form on a property basis, the court officials said.

Each court also uses different wording and has different ways of evaluating properties up for auction.

The Web information for properties under the Tokyo and Osaka District courts is being accessed more than 40,000 times per month.

The proportion of sales of properties put up for auction has climbed to 80 percent from levels of around 50 percent to 60 percent in 1998, and almost all successful bids were made within half a year of the start of an auction, the officials said.

However, bureau officials stressed that while it will become more convenient to gain information on the properties, it will still be a good idea for interested parties to actually view the sites before bidding, since some properties are occupied by yakuza or other shady figures who squat on sites to prevent their sale.

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