High court backs sale of Chongryon’s HQ


The Tokyo High Court on Monday rejected an appeal by a pro-Pyongyang Korean group of a ruling that sold its Tokyo headquarters to a Japanese real estate company, endorsing a lower court ruling on the deal.

While the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) is allowed to file an appeal against the property’s sale with the Supreme Court, procedures are already under way to complete the deal.

As soon as the real estate firm, Marunaka Holdings, pays ¥2.21 billion for the property, the company will gain ownership.

Marunaka has declared it is buying the property for investment purposes and will ask Chongryon to vacate the building. If the group refuses to do so, Marunaka may seek a court order to vacate the property before resorting to compulsory eviction.

Chongryon is thus expected to lose the building, which has served as North Korea’s de facto embassy in the absence of diplomatic relations between Japan and North Korea.

North Korea expressed strong concern about the deal during official talks with Japan and is expected to stiffen its attitude in future talks.

The Tokyo District Court decided in 2012 to auction the Chiyoda Ward property as requested by the government-backed Resolution and Collection Corp., which took over ¥62.7 billion in claims to Chongryon from a failed credit union.

Initially, the Saifukuji Buddhist Temple in Kagoshima Prefecture won the auction for the property in March 2013 with what was then the highest bid of ¥4.52 billion but failed to pay by the deadline.

A Mongolian company made an even higher bid of ¥5.01 billion in a subsequent auction last October. But the district court later disqualified it as a bidder due to documentation problems, leaving Marunaka Holdings the only remaining bidder.

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