A Buddhist temple in Kagoshima Prefecture won the tender Tuesday to acquire the Tokyo headquarters of the pro-North Korean group Chongryon, the Tokyo District Court said.

The result should enable the group, formally known as the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, to continue using the premises because Saifuku Temple in Kagoshima has connections with North Korea.

The facility in Chiyoda Ward has served as a de facto diplomatic mission for North Korea, which has no official ties with Japan.

The auction has been closely watched because Chongryon could be forced to vacate the premises if the new owner were to refuse to allow it to remain as a tenant.

The Kagoshima temple offered ¥4.5 billion, the highest among four bidders, to acquire the land and the Chongryon building.

"We will keep the building as it is and make it a base of harmony among ethnic groups in Asia, including North Korea," said Saifuku Temple leader Ekan Ikeguchi.

"The function of our headquarters will be maintained for the time being, at least," a Chongryon official said. "We feel relieved."

The government-backed Resolution and Collection Corp. put the premises out to tender to recoup loans of about ¥62.7 billion it made to Chongryon.