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Chongryon staves off sale of HQ

Pro-Pyongyang group deposits ¥100 million, sources say

Kyodo

The pro-Pyongyang group Chongyron paid a deposit Monday to prevent for now the sale of its Tokyo headquarters building and land, sources said.

The ¥100 million deposit, filed with the Tokyo Legal Affairs Bureau, was a condition set by the Supreme Court for suspension of a permit allowing sale of the property to real estate developer Marunaka Holdings Co. for ¥2.21 billion.

The suspension of the sale, which came one day before Japan and North Korea were to start a new round of talks in Beijing, will stand until the Supreme Court makes a decision on an appeal by Chongryon against the permit.

Chongryon collected the deposit money from Korean residents close to the association, the sources said.

The pro-Pyongyang group, also known as the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, filed the appeal against the sales permit on the grounds that a new auction could attract higher bids.

The building has served as the de facto North Korean embassy in the absence of diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang.

North Korea expressed concern over the property sale during talks in May where Pyongyang gave in to demands to reinvestigate the fate of Japanese abductees.

The Tokyo District Court decided in 2012 to auction the property to pay off Chongryon’s debts of ¥62.7 billion incurred during the failure of financial institutions that served pro-Pyongyang Koreans in Japan.

In the first auction in March 2013, a Buddhist temple made the highest bid of ¥4.52 billion.

The temple, known for its close ties with North Korea, failed to pay by the deadline.

In the second auction last October, a Mongolian company made the highest bid of ¥5.01 billion. Later the district court invalidated the outcome due to procedural problems and selected Marunaka as the successful bidder despite its far lower bid of ¥2.21 billion.