The Justice Ministry put forward a plan Thursday to compensate loan-sharking victims by imposing financial penalties on usurious lenders and seizing their assets through criminal prosecution, and channeling that money into compensation funds.

Justice Minister Chieko Nono gave the proposal to the Legislative Council, the ministry’s advisory body.

If the council backs the program, the ministry will submit it as a bill to the extraordinary Diet session this fall, ministry officials said.

Victims often remain silent for fear of reprisals from underworld syndicates involved in loan-sharking.

The proposed program comes on the heels of a high-profile loan-sharking case involving Goryo-kai, a group affiliated with Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime syndicate.

The ministry’s plan will enable prosecutors to play a key role by allowing them to investigate the backgrounds of crimes and to impose penalties and seize assets from loan sharks. They would also determine how much victims should be compensated.

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