総連本部売却 居座りはこれ以上許されない

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Chongryon must observe ruling of top court, vacate headquarters
総連本部売却 居座りはこれ以上許されない

The judicial branch of the government has made a final judgment. The General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) cannot stay any longer at its current headquarters.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed Chongryon’s appeal against a court-led auction of its headquarters building and associated land in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. The ruling confirmed the sale of the property to Marunaka Holdings Co., a real estate firm in Takamatsu that won the auction.

The top court ruled that the decision to sell the property to Marunaka is reasonable because it will bring about the sale through fair and speedy procedures.

Once payment is made, Marunaka will take ownership of the property. The organization — which represents pro-Pyongyang Korean residents in this nation — will be urged to leave the building and land that constitute its current headquarters, which have been seen as North Korea’s de facto embassy in Japan.

An agent of Chongryon said that the top court’s ruling was “highly regrettable.”

Now that the Supreme Court has recognized that the auction was legitimate, however, Chongryon must respond accordingly if Marunaka requests that the organization vacate the building and land.

Chongryon’s headquarters was brought to the block by the successive collapse since 1997 of credit unions affiliated with pro-Pyongyang Korean residents in Japan. A major factor in their bankruptcies was the huge loans they extended to Chongryon, which became unrecoverable.

Recovery of public funds

The government injected over ¥1 trillion in public funds to resolve the problem. The Resolution and Collection Corporation, which absorbed the bad loans, arranged to auction the property, which occupies a prime location in central Tokyo. We think this was a reasonable course of action by the government-affiliated body in executing its duty to recover the public money.

A religious organization won the first auction in March last year, but it later abandoned the purchase because it could not raise enough money. The second auction, held in October last year, was won by a Mongolian firm that placed the highest bid, but the firm was later disqualified because it failed to submit the necessary documents.

The Tokyo District Court then decided the headquarters should be sold to Marunaka, the second-highest bidder in the second auction. The Tokyo High Court also supported the decision. Dissatisfied with this, however, Chongryon appealed to the Supreme Court. Its protest was apparently a strategy to delay vacating the premises for as long as possible.

According to the Public Security Intelligence Agency, Chongryon was given a strict order from the North Korean government to defend the headquarters at all costs.

In talks held recently between Tokyo and Pyongyang on the reinvestigation into Japanese nationals abducted or believed to have been abducted by North Korean agents, the North Korean representatives expressed concerns over the auction of the headquarters. With the start of the reinvestigation, the Japanese government lifted restrictions on the transit of individuals between Japan and North Korea, which allowed a Chongryon leader to visit North Korea in September.

The reinvestigation of Japanese abductees will soon enter a critical stage. The progress of Japan-North Korea talks must not be affected by the Supreme Court ruling.

“We clearly told [North Korea] that the [Japanese] government cannot do anything about an issue already subject to legal procedures,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

We think the government should state this position repeatedly to North Korea.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 6, 2014)Speech

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