• Kyodo

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The municipal government of Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture, has received fixed-asset taxes due on a local hall owned by the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun), sources in the city said Wednesday.

Chongryun used to enjoy tax-free status on its fixed assets, but many local authorities are reversing this policy because of the growing tide of anti-North Korean sentiment. The association has close ties with North Korea.

The Hitachi government had waived the asset tax on the Chongryun building since fiscal 1986 and on the land on which it stands since fiscal 1990, as the structure was designated as a public hall.

The municipality revoked the tax exemption in August after finding out the facility has not been used as a public hall, and asked Chongryun to pay the tax, according to city officials.

In a related move, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has initiated proceedings to seize facilities owned by Chongryun, including its headquarters, because of unpaid fixed-asset taxes.

The metropolitan government had granted tax-free status since 1972 for Chongryun’s property because the group was regarded as a de facto diplomatic avenue for contacts with North Korea.