• Kyodo


A real estate firm that recently acquired the building housing the Tokyo headquarters of North Korea-affiliated group Chongryon has signed a deal to sell the property for ¥4.4 billion, informed sources said Thursday.

The building’s new owner, a Yamagata-based real estate company, is expected to lease the property to Chongryon, otherwise known as the General Association of Korean Residents, allowing the group to continue to use the building that has served as North Korea’s de facto embassy in Japan in the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The latest development came after Kagawa Prefecture-based Marunaka Holdings Co. became the successful bidder for the building and land last March, through an auction that irked North Korea.

Marunaka took ownership of the property in November following a payment of ¥2.21 billion. But the real estate company then signed a contract Wednesday to resell the property, the sources said.

Toshio Yamauchi, a former Upper House member with close ties to former Marunaka President Yoshihiko Nakayama, said he mediated the purchase and proposed the resale of the property around last May.

“By settling this auction issue, I hoped ties between Japan and North Korea, including the issue of North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals, will make progress,” Yamauchi said Thursday.

An official of Marunaka said the company “cannot say at this stage whether the property has been sold.”

Chongryon declined to comment on the matter.

The auction of the Chiyoda Ward property was decided by the Tokyo District Court in 2012. The government-backed Resolution and Collection Corp. sought the sale after trying to collect ¥62.7 billion in loans to Chongryon following the collapse of the group’s finances.

Marunaka had said it was buying the property for “investment purposes” and that it wanted the Korean group to vacate the property once the ownership was transferred.

With North Korea expressing concerns over the sale of the building, the issue has drawn attention as it could further complicate already strained ties between Japan and North Korea, which are engaging in difficult talks on the abduction issue.

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