Mystery still surrounds the unsuccessful attempt to buy the 10-story headquarters of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents of Japan (Chongryun) and its land. Mr. Shigetake Ogata, former head of the Public Security Intelligence Agency, which monitors Chongryun, headed an investment advisory firm that tried to buy the properties for 3.5 billion yen.
It is hoped that prosecutors will carry out a fair investigation and clarify the total picture. Mr. Koken Tsuchiya, former president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, represented Chongryun in the deal and asked Mr. Ogata for his cooperation.
On Monday, the Tokyo District Court ordered Chongryun to repay 62.7 billion yen to the Resolution and Collection Corp., a governmental debt-collection body. RCC had bought nonperforming loans worth that amount from 16 defunct pro-Pyongyang credit associations. The court decided the loans made to various parties were loans to Chongryun, and that RCC could seize the Chongryun properties before the ruling was finalized following appeal.
There are many bizarre aspects about the real estate deal. On May 31, the ownership of the Chongryun properties was transferred to Harvest, the investment advisory firm, even though no payments had been made to Chongryun. Mr. Ogata also admitted that the firm was a paper company set up in September. Under the sales contract, Chongryun would continue to use the building and land and be accorded the right to buy back the properties in five years. Shortly before Monday’s ruling, Mr. Tsuchiya gave up on selling the properties, and the title was transferred back to the original owner, Chosen Chuo Kaikan Kanrikai, a limited partnership corporation, which is integrated with Chongryun. Mr. Ogata also said he did not know the detailed identity of an investor who had promised to pay the 3.5 billion yen.
Mr. Ogata said he pushed the deal so that the Chongryun headquarters, which is like an embassy for Pyongyang-affiliated Korean residents in Japan, would not be seized if Monday’s ruling went against the group. Both Mr. Ogata and Mr. Tsuchiya need to disclose full details.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.