A record 142,000 people have failed to repay their student loans even a year after the deadline, a survey by the government-affiliated Japan Student Services Organization showed Wednesday.

The survey indicates many of the recipients have experienced financial hardship since graduation. A rising number cited unemployment or job loss as the reason for their delinquency, officials of the organization said.

“We believe there are many people who cannot get a job immediately after graduation. It’s not a case of rampant bilking of student loans,” one official said.

The figure for defaulters at the end of March was 6 percent higher than a year before, and outstanding loans totaled 122.1 billion yen, according to the independent administrative agency.

A total of 185,000 people missed their deadlines by more than three months, which would make them nonperforming loans in the commercial sector.

In a 2001 survey, 7 percent of the 3,300 people who failed to repay their loans for three to four years cited unemployment or job loss.

In the latest survey, conducted on 1,800 people who haven’t paid for one to two years, 20 percent of the respondents cited lack of work as the reason for not repaying, making it the top reason.

The percentage who had jobs but cited low income rose to 22 percent in fiscal 2005 from 19 percent in fiscal 2001.

The organization, formerly known as the Japan Scholarship Foundation, allows recipients to postpone repayment in certain circumstances. Postponed payments came to 64.4 billion yen in fiscal 2004.

Postponements allowed due to unemployment or job loss came to 54.9 billion yen, more than double the 25.4 billion yen in fiscal 2000.

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