FUKUOKA (Kyodo) The Fukuoka High Court ruled Thursday that a facility owned by a pro-North Korea organization is not eligible for preferential tax treatment as the group's work does not benefit the general public, reversing a lower court decision that recognized the public nature of Kumamoto Korean Hall.

It is the first judicial decision to halt a reduction or exemption of local taxes on halls affiliated with the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun).

On grounds that the hall does not benefit the Japanese public, the high court ordered Kumamoto Mayor Seishi Koyama to order the official who granted the exemption in fiscal 2003 -- in this case Koyama himself -- to personally pay the 305,300 yen in taxes.