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A high-ranking official of a pro-Pyongyang group in Japan filed a lawsuit Friday against a publisher and lawmaker over claims that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il asked the official to send Japanese public funds to Pyongyang.

Ho Jong Man, deputy chairman of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), filed the suit with the Tokyo District Court against Bungeishunju Ltd., publisher of the weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun, and House of Representatives member Katsuei Hirasawa over the report in the magazine’s April 18 edition.

Ho is seeking 50 million yen in compensation and a published apology because he says the article contains false allegations that Kim asked him to collect Japanese public money that may be funneled into troubled Chogin credit unions and send it to the North.

Hirasawa, of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was quoted in the article as confirming the allegations.

“The report is an outright lie and it slanders me and the leader of North Korea,” Ho said.

“I am happy to hear about the lawsuit,” Hirasawa said. “I want to fully investigate the money flows of Chongryon by having Ho appear in court.”

Seigo Kimata, the editor in chief of the magazine, expressed confidence in the article.

Chogin credit unions mainly serve pro-Pyongyang Korean residents of Japan. A number of Chogin unions across Japan have gone under since the first bankruptcy in Osaka in 1997, and the government is considering injecting them with public funds.

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