National / Crime & Legal

Supreme Court upholds sale of Chongryon's Tokyo headquarters

Kyodo

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision Wednesday to permit the sale of the Tokyo headquarters of pro-Pyongyang group Chongryon, rejecting the group’s appeal, officials said.

Ownership of the building, which has functioned as North Korea’s de facto embassy in Japan in the absence of diplomatic relations, will be transferred to real estate developer Marunaka Holdings Co., based in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture, for ¥2.21 billion.

North Korea has expressed strong concerns about the sale of the building and land in a prime location in the capital’s Chiyoda Ward, and the court ruling could weigh on relations between the two countries.

Frosty ties between Tokyo and Pyongyang have thawed recently after the latter promised to find out what happened to Japanese nationals it abducted in the 1970s and 1980s.

That deal was brokered in May. Speaking afterward, Song Il Ho, North Korea’s envoy to the talks, said the agreement was tied to the fate of the building in Tokyo, although Japanese officials disputed that.

If Chongryon, also known as the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, does not vacate the office, Marunaka may seek a court order to access to the building and the land.

In 2012, the Tokyo District Court decided to auction off the property as demanded by the Japanese government-backed Resolution and Collection Corp., which is owed about ¥62.7 billion by Chongryon following the collapse of the group’s financial institutions.

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