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Kanagawa man regrets selling nonprofit health group to Chinese bank employee

TOKYO -- A man who sold an incorporated nonprofit organization (NPO) to a Chinese bank employee ended up regretting it, after the new owner did not continue the organization as promised and even failed to file paperwork necessary to change the NPO's chairman, he said in an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun.

The man is a judo physical therapist in his 40s, and the NPO was established in Kanagawa Prefecture, just south of Tokyo, in 2013. The man intended to organize lectures for the elderly and people with disabilities through the NPO so that they could learn about preventive measures to delay nursing care and exercises and other information to maintain their health.

But the organization became dormant around 2015, as few people requested lectures. Hoping to pass the NPO that he went through the trouble to found on to someone who wished to do something for society, the man sounded out at a number of acquaintances to transfer its ownership. With no success, he turned to a Tokyo company that matches NPO sellers with buyers.

After his NPO went on the company website sale list this March, a man around age 40, who worked for a Chinese financial institution offered to buy the organization. The seller and the buyer met in a room in a building in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward on April 26, and the Chinese bank employee eagerly explained in Japanese why he wanted the NPO.

"I want to use the NPO to attract Japanese artisans and introduce them to China," he said. The Japanese man decided to sell his NPO, thinking, "He is a bank employee, so he probably won't abuse the organization."

The price tag was approximately 400,000 yen, but the seller only received 100,000 yen. Of the remaining 300,000 yen, tens of thousands of yen in fees went to a judicial scrivener who handled the paperwork, and the rest went to the broker. The paperwork was done the next day, and the bank employee became the new chairman of the NPO.

The new owner had promised during negotiation of the sale to change the registered address of the NPO's office and find new members. The address, however, remained unchanged, and new members were hard to find, and even the Japanese artisans the NPO was supposed to gather remained unavailable. The bank employee eventually gave up running the body, and registration to close the NPO was completed through a local legal affairs bureau at the end of May.

This was not the end for the original owner, however. Usually, a report about the closure of an NPO has to be submitted to the Kanagawa Prefectural Government, which oversaw the NPO, to complete the entire closure process. As the last step was not taken, the name of the original owner remained listed as the chairman on the Cabinet Office website, which provides information about NPOs across the nation, even into June.

If the NPO caused any trouble under his name, the man was worried that he would end up responsible. He also had no idea who had to file a government-mandated annual report about the NPO's activity to the Kanagawa Prefectural Government -- he or the bank employee. "I am very anxious," the man had said.

When a reporter told the prefectural government that the registration for closure had already been completed, and the prefecture contacted the NPO sale broker. The broker then filed the necessary paperwork on July 26 to actually dissolve the NPO, and the name of the original owner was finally removed from the Cabinet Office website.

"I am psychologically exhausted. I don't want to deal with this anymore," he said.

Meanwhile, the Chinese bank employee told the Mainichi Shimbun that he did nothing wrong, while still admitting that he did not know any Japanese artisans.

(Japanese original by Go Terada and Yasuji Mukaihata, Special News Group)

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