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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 July 30 - August 12  > Loan shark uses sports tour to push for more loans
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2014 July 30 - August 12 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Loan shark uses sports tour to push for more loans

August 10, 2014
Akahata ‘current’ column

Akahata on August 6 and August 10 reported on a promotion campaign by a quick-loan outlet urging figure-skating fans to borrow money if they want to attend an international competition.

Aiful Corporation, a major Japanese fast moneylender planned a tour to watch the 2014 Cup of China ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, to be held in Shanghai in November. The firm offered tour participation on condition that applicants take out new credit-card loans and borrow more than 50,000 yen. Playing on fans’ enthusiasm and encouraging quick loans in order to seek new borrowers is abusing the position of sponsor.

Up until recently, consumer finance companies offered loans at interest rates of nearly 30% a year, creating a lot of heavily-indebted people. Cruel debt-collection tactics drove many debtors to suicide and this became a social issue. The revised related-law four years ago lowered the interest rate, but the rate of 15-20% per year is still excessive. Liberal Democratic Party politicians are making moves in the Diet in accordance with the industry’s demand for the 30% interest rate to be reintroduced.

About ten years ago, Akahata criticized loan sharks for using sports to mask their negative image, and a series of Akahata reports played a role in having all their billboards removed from a professional baseball stadium. The mass media at that time were reluctant to criticize consumer finance firms because they were large sponsors for TV networks and newspapers. This time as well, no media reported on the Aiful sports tour promotion, except Akahata.

In contrast, sports enthusiasts showed their soundness. As soon as they learned of the Aiful campaign on its website, they began protesting against it on Twitter and the protests expanded.

As a result, Aiful Corporation withdrew “the 50,000 yen minimum loan” from the tour participation conditions. It told Akahata that it changed the conditions after taking into account various opinions it received from figure-skating fans.

Conscience of the fans made the difference.
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