Japan Finance Corp. has ‘contact’ for politicians, fast-track virus loans: sources

The main office of Japan Finance Corp. is seen in the Chiyoda district of Tokyo on February 9, 2022. (Mainichi/Ai Kunimoto)

TOKYO – Several employees of Japan Finance Corp. (JFC), backed by the government, have admitted that there is a “point of contact” for the negotiation of loans by politicians under its program of special loans for businesses affected by the pandemic, sources said. close to the file. Mainichi Shimbun.

The revelation came during an investigation by the Tokyo District Prosecutors Office into a violation of the Money Lending Law by former House of Representatives member Kiyohiko Toyama regarding the JFC’s special coronavirus loans. . Sources said several JFC employees told the prosecutor’s office special investigation unit during voluntary questioning that a “contact” to respond to politicians’ loan brokerage exists.

Members of the public can sometimes wait two to three months to reach the JFC consultation office for virus loans amid flurries of program applications from companies affected by the pandemic. But cases brokered by Toyama using politicians’ “contact” have seen several companies confirmed to have received loans within a month.

During the public trial of Toyama and others due to begin in Tokyo District Court on February 14, prosecutors were able to point to disparities in the timeliness of JFC loans based on political influence.

According to the parties involved, several JFC employees told the Special Investigation Unit that staff dealing with politicians are assigned to JFC’s customer advisory department and that they responded to loan brokerage by the Diet legislators and others.

Specifically, the staff in charge of politicians first receives requests from politicians by phone or fax, and decides on a branch for loans based on factors such as the location of the company wishing to take out the loans. The staff then present the case to the branch as a “political matter” and then inform the politicians of the designated branch and the responsible worker. The staff who deal with requests from politicians are not involved in the selection of loans.

In the money lending law violation case, Toyama, 52, a former Komeito lawmaker, a junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and three others, including Akira Shibuya, 61, a former Masataka Ota’s political secretary, 60, a former lower house Komeito member, was charged without arrest for violating the Money Lending Business Act. Both Toyama and Shibuya used the JFC’s “point of contact” for politicians. Contact information has been shared between secretaries of Diet members, and there is even a case where it has been passed on to a legislator’s office for many years.

A Tokyo-based language school operator said he applied to the JFC for a special coronavirus loan of 20 million yen (about $173,000) in March 2020, but only received 10 million yen – the half of the requested amount, and it took about two months before the loan was approved. But after the company asked Toyama to negotiate a loan in December 2020, she was introduced to an official at a JFC branch in Tokyo. Seven days after the company filed a new request for 30 million yen (about $260,000), 10 million yen was approved and payment was made about a week later. The company’s president said, “I thought the loan process was sped up by the influence of a member of the Diet.”

According to those concerned, several companies that applied for loans from Toyama brokers received them within a month from JFC branches in Kanagawa, Tochigi and Aomori prefectures. Toyama reportedly received a total of around 10 million yen in brokerage rewards from the companies.

JFC’s Public Relations Department said, “The Client Support Desk is a point of contact for receiving referrals of loan applicants from outside parties, but it is also in charge of other operations. The office is not necessarily dedicated to receiving referrals from politicians. We regularly receive loan recommendations from people in various positions, but the conclusion (on granting loans) and speed of selection remains the same.”

(Japanese original by Kazuya Shimura, Yujiro Futamura, Ai Kunimoto and Tomonori Matsuo, Tokyo City News Department)

James V. Hayes