“Family Collapse” and “I’ll Have to Die to Pay You Back”: Heartbreaking Voices of the “Victims” of the Suruga Problem | FRIDAY DIGITAL

“Family Collapse” and “I’ll Have to Die to Pay You Back”: Heartbreaking Voices of the “Victims” of the Suruga Problem

The "Suruga Bank Fraudulent Loan Victims Alliance" was launched in May this year. The victims, who claim they were forced to buy bad properties, are all struggling to repay the large amount of loans. What are the realities of these people whose peaceful lives have been changed forever?

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A demonstration by the “Victims’ Alliance” in front of the Tokyo branch of Suruga Bank at the end of September this year

Suruga Bank, which caused a public stir with the incident of the “Pumpkin Carriage” share house, is now entering a new phase.

In March of this year, the bank reached a settlement with the owners of the share houses on the unusual condition that the debt of about 88.2 billion yen would be written off. This time, however, the “Suruga Bank Victims’ Alliance” was established in May to support the victims of fraudulent loans for apartments and condominiums. About 300 people have filed a claim against Suruga Bank for a huge sum of about 80.5 billion yen.

We reported on the “Victims’ Alliance” in detail in the October 22 issue of this magazine. The members of the “Victims’ Alliance,” which is currently negotiating with Suruga Bank, are all in extremely difficult financial situations, and the more we interviewed them, the more we heard their tragic voices, such as “I am 300 million yen in debt,” “My family has collapsed,” and “I have no choice but to pay with life insurance. We followed the real lives of people whose lives were completely changed after they purchased a condominium or apartment with a loan from Suruga Bank.

Mr. Nakamura (pseudonym, in his 40s), a resident of Yokohama City, was blessed with four children and had a picture-perfect happy family. After graduating from university, he started working for a listed company. After graduating from university, he worked for a company listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and rose steadily through the ranks to become a manager with an annual income of nearly 10 million yen.

However, the family landscape changed in 2003 when he took out a condominium loan from Suruga Bank and purchased a condominium in Shizuoka Prefecture due to concerns about pension problems.

“The amount of the loan from Suruga Bank was about 88 million yen. However, the situation was completely different from what was explained at the time of purchase, and the rent roll (list of loan and borrowing conditions) was disguised and disguised again and again. We were told that we could expect a monthly rent of over 788,000 yen for all 12 rooms and that the loan repayment would be 460,000 yen per month, which would be enough to make the property profitable, but in reality there were only vacancies. In addition, it was discovered that the first floor had structural earthquake-resistance problems, and it could not be rented out without major repairs, which required nearly 50 million yen.

Because of such a property, only five rooms were filled, and the rent income was 260,000 yen against the loan of 460,000 yen. I’m struggling to make up the monthly deficit from my salary and even raise money for my children’s school fees.

Mr. Nakamura’s debt has grown year by year and now exceeds 100 million yen. When he appealed to the Suruga Bank staff to review the 4.5% interest rate, they offered him a free loan with an even higher interest rate of 7% under the guise of an education fund, and in order to raise money for his four children’s school fees, he grasped at straws and stamped the contract. This anthill-like cycle of loans has made her life even tighter.

I can’t even pay for my own food now,” he said. I thought about going into bankruptcy, but since my wife was a guarantor at the time of the contract, she will have to carry the cross of debt for the rest of her life. We have two children, the older one in college and the younger one in elementary school, but due to our financial situation, it is difficult for us to even send our children to school.

Naturally, my wife and children blamed me every day, and gradually our family conversations disappeared. I asked my relatives for help and managed to borrow nearly 10 million yen to repay the debt, but they too abandoned me because of it.

The common thread among the claims of the members of the “Victims’ Alliance” is that items such as rent rolls and personal assets were heavily falsified at the time of the contract. Although investment is ultimately one’s own responsibility, it would be difficult to make a sound judgment if there were major discrepancies in the information provided about the properties, etc., and if one was “forced” to take out a loan for an amount that could not be repaid. The depth of this problem lies in the fact that it cannot be cleared up with a single word, “self-responsibility.

“If it is allowed, I would like to go back to my normal life and lead a life with hope. That is my only wish. Is there no other way left but to settle the matter by death with the death benefit of group credit life insurance? ……”

Mr. Kagawa (pseudonym, in his 50s), who lives in a house in the suburbs of Tokyo, purchased two apartments in Oita Prefecture and a condominium in Hokkaido in 2004, receiving a total of about 160 million yen in loans. Mr. Kagawa claims that these properties were also “bad” properties with completely different conditions from the initial description, and the three buildings are running a combined deficit of more than 5 million yen per year, and he is in danger of having his property seized.

Mr. Kagawa, who works at a major financial institution, and his wife, who works at a hospital, have a combined annual household income of about 20 million yen. The family was originally quite wealthy, with the eldest son enrolled in a private university medical school and the second son who is in the process of studying for medical school. The family did not have enough money to pay off the 15 million yen loan.

“My eldest son said, ‘I’m going to have to quit the university I got into,’ and my second son said, ‘Maybe you should give up on higher education. My wife has been asking me if we have to sell the house, but I don’t have any words to reply, and I have been living in a state of self-doubt for more than three years. Even though investment is one’s own responsibility, I wonder if the Suruga Bank is not to blame for the spread of loans covered with deceitful figures and lies. There are thousands of people like me all over the country.

The occupancy rate of the property in Oita that we purchased was about 70% according to the initial description, but in fact it was less than half of that. The occupancy rate of the property in Oita that we purchased was about 70% according to the initial description, but in fact it was less than half of that. Mr. Kagawa repeatedly questioned the person in charge, but the person in charge made a surprising proposal.

“Without showing the slightest sign of resentment, he said, ‘Let’s use these two buildings as collateral and invest in a new condominium in Hokkaido to recover the money. The banker was also checking the site and kept repeating that the properties were endorsed by Suruga Bank, a listed company. I was paralyzed and in a hurry to collect the money, so I signed the contract.

However, the same kind of disguised rent control was used for that too. I later found out that the deposit in my account had been falsified by 20 million yen more than what it actually was. The documents had been fraudulently rewritten in order to pass a loan that would not normally have been approved. Since then, the person in charge has gone pear-shaped, and even when we contacted Suruga, they wouldn’t take us seriously.

In exchange for the three apartments and condominiums endorsed by the bank, Mr. Kagawa’s family quickly collapsed as he was burdened with debts of nearly 200 million yen. Now, he is forced to make a decision in order to prevent his family from being affected by the debt.

“In order to avoid any impact on his family, he has no choice but to divorce his wife, give away all his property, and go bankrupt. I’ve been in the financial world for almost 30 years and I still can’t believe that there is such compliance in a bank organization.

Mr. Kagawa looked up to the sky.

“Some of the Victims Alliance victims have pointed out the illegality and stopped repayment. Mr. Tanaka (pseudonym, in his 50s), who works for a foreign insurance company and bought two condominiums in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, in 2004, has not made any repayment for two and a half years. The seller had promised to pay about 1.8 million yen in guaranteed rent for the properties under sublease contracts, but the seller went bankrupt. As a result, the rent guarantee was lost, and when they asked for information disclosure through their lawyer, the defects of the property were revealed one after another. The loan from Suruga Bank was 300 million yen. Naturally, they are required to repay the loan, but after pursuing the disguise through their lawyer, they are determined to stop repayment.

“If we were to repay the loan, the annual deficit would be as much as 8 million yen. When we purchased the property, there was a big discrepancy between the actual appraisal value of the property and the loan amount, and we were worried. The manager of the Suruga branch told me, “The property is absolutely safe. Please invest with peace of mind. However, in reality, the property had deteriorated to the extent that it needed large-scale repairs, and the rental income was less than half of what it should have been. They couldn’t get their heads around it, so they tried to sell it at a much lower price than the appraised value, but they didn’t even get an inquiry.

Suruga Bank acknowledged the flaw in the property and offered to lower the interest rate to 1% and the principal amount by 210,000 yen, but it was an unacceptable amount. At first, I thought about suicide many times, but when I remembered the faces of Suruga’s staff and broker, I felt so frustrated that I couldn’t kill myself. That is the only thing that keeps me going and I am fighting for my life even though I am ashamed of myself.

Although he was now prepared to fight tooth and nail, he had run out of savings to repay the loan and had borrowed money from other financial institutions. But even so, the deficit grew even larger, rather than being repaired. It was in April of this year that I told my family for the first time about my debt. His two children were appalled, and his wife broke down in tears.

“I also told them that we had already run out of money for retirement. My wife was pessimistic about the future, and she couldn’t get up without crying, angry but grasping the helpless situation. I don’t know how long the current state of suspended repayment will last, but considering taxes, retirement and inheritance, bankruptcy is unavoidable anyway. I myself have not been able to devote myself to my main business of selling insurance and my annual income has been reduced to less than half. My case is almost the same as the “pumpkin carriage” case, and Suruga admitted that they were at fault. If there is a reason why they can’t accept the claim for compensation, they should clearly state it. That’s all.”

“The Victims’ Alliance will continue to negotiate with Suruga Bank patiently in cooperation with the lawyers. Will they ever be able to regain their peace?

A demonstration by the Victims’ Alliance in front of Suruga Bank’s Tokyo branch at the end of September.
In mid-September, the “Victims’ Alliance” held a rally, attended by about 150 people. They discussed future negotiations.
  • Photo Takayuki Ogawauchi (1st, 3rd), Toshikatsu Tanaka

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