Decision on Chongryon site delayed

Court checking if Mongolian buyer is legit, or is North-linked

Kyodo

Without giving a reason, the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday postponed a decision on whether to approve the sale of the Tokyo headquarters site of a pro-Pyongyang group to a purported Mongolian company.

The court said a new date will be set later.

Avar LLC won the recent second auction for the headquarters site of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, known as Chongryon, with a bid of ¥5.01 billion.

Chongryon serves as North Korea’s de facto mission in Japan in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The court was examining whether the company has hidden financial ties with Chongryon and if it is financially sound enough to finance the purchase, according to sources.

A man who claimed over the phone to be the president of Avar confirmed to Kyodo News the firm had won the bidding. But he quickly hung up, claiming he was out of town and the telephone connection was bad.

The firm is registered as a consulting business in Ulan Bator and updated its information on Jan. 18. Its capital is listed as “1,000,” though there is no mention of the currency.

However, an Ulan Bator official said that the address registered by the firm does not exist.

A source familiar with Japan-Mongolia relations said that no one he has spoken with has heard of Avar.

“You would think people would know about a company large enough to have ¥5 billion,” he said.

The Tokyo District Court decided in July 2012 to hold an auction for the headquarters as demanded by the Japanese government-backed Resolution and Collection Corp., which is owed about ¥62.7 billion by Chongryon following the collapse of financial institutions in Japan for pro-North Korean residents.

The first auction was won by the Saifuku-ji Temple based in the city of Kagoshima in March 2013, but the Buddhist institution failed to finance the ¥4.5 billion purchase by the deadline.

The temple’s chief priest, Ekan Ikeguchi, has close ties with senior officials of the North Korean government and Chongryon.

The headquarters site in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward consists of a 10-story building with two basement floors and a 2,387-sq.-meter tract of land.