• Kyodo

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The municipal government of Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture, has imposed a real estate tax on a facility belonging to the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun), making it the first local government in Japan to do so, city officials said Saturday.

The city notified Chongryun of the imposition of the tax in May and has received no objections from the organization, they said. The actual amount of the tax was not announced.

Tsuchiura had exempted the facility, a hall, from the tax since 1989 after the group said it was open to the public and requested a tax exemption, according to the officials.

But the city decided to impose the tax after it learned last year that the hall is not open to the public.

Last month, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government inspected Chongryun’s head office in Chiyoda Ward in preparation for the imposition of taxes on the group’s assets.

Chongryun, which represents North Korean residents of Japan in the absence of diplomatic ties between Japan and North Korea, has been exempt from real estate taxation on its Tokyo offices since 1972.

In 1972, then Tokyo Gov. Ryokichi Minobe decided to exempt Chongryun from the real estate tax, defining the group as a de facto diplomatic organization.

But Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has reversed that policy, saying Chongryun has no diplomatic status.

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