Debtor told to sell eyeball, kidney and parts of his liver

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The Independent Online
A DEBT collector was arrested after trying to force a Tokyo man aged 62 to sell his kidney, an eyeball and parts of his liver to settle an overdue loan.

The debt collector, 25, allegedly made more than 20 phone calls to the victim, who was a guarantor on a 11.5 million yen (pounds 65,000) loan for an old friend. According to police, the debt collector told him he could get about three million yen (pounds 17,000) for his kidney and one million yen (pounds 5,700) for his eyeball. "I want you to sell your heart as well, but if you do that you'll die," he is alleged to have told the guarantor. "So I'll bear with you if you sell everything up to that."

The debt collector was arrested on Saturday in a case that has drawn renewed attention to the effects of Japan's recession. There is growing concern at the amounts of personal debt that have been accumulated since the collapse of the Japanese economic bubble. The country's banks, which were crippled by the problem of unrecoverable loans made during the Eighties boom, have drastically cut their lending, leaving the market open to companies such as Nichiei Co, which employed the alleged extortionist. Instead of demanding collateral, such lenders accept the signature of a guarantor who agrees to take responsibility for the borrower's failure to pay, and charge interest as high as 39 per cent.

The original loan was taken out by a small businessman who, like many other Japanese, was hit hard by the recession. He first borrowed the equivalent of pounds 11,400, for which two of his friends agreed to act as guarantors. But without telling them, he extended this to pounds 65,000 before his firm finally went bankrupt.

One guarantor paid up, but the other, who was responsible for half the sum, was unable to find the money. The debt collector was eventually sacked by Nichiei Co after failing to meet quotas for recovering debts.