Updated: 03/24/2014 20:34 | By Agence France-Presse

Tokyo court approves sale of de facto N.Korean embassy

A court ruled Monday that a Japanese estate agency could buy the Tokyo property that serves as North Korea's de facto embassy, after an earlier bid fell through.


Tokyo court approves sale of de facto N.Korean embassy

View of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan -- also known as Chongryon -- in Tokyo, on March 26, 2013 - by Kazuhiro Nogi

The decision from the Tokyo District Court drew an immediate and angry reaction from Chongryon, the organisation that represents North Korean interests in Japan in the absence of diplomatic ties.

"This is an unfair decision. We cannot accept it," said an organisation spokesman, adding that an appeal would be lodged. 

The site -- a 2,390-square-metre (25,725-square-feet) plot and 10-storey building occupied by Chongryon -- was put up for auction after it was seized by authorities over unpaid debts.

Monday's ruling gave real estate firm Marunaka Holdings the right to buy the building for 2.21 billion yen ($22 million), after a winning bid from an obscure Mongolia-registered company fell apart.

The Avar Limited Liability Company had won an auction in October with a bid of 5.01 billion yen, beating Marunaka's offer. But the court disqualified the offer several months later reportedly due to flawed documentation amid questions over whether the firm had links to Pyongyang.

Japanese law bars an organisation forced to sell assets from taking part in an auction of them. 

The Japanese firm is planning to remove the North Korean-linked organisation from the property, reports said, but it was unclear if it still planned to go through with the purchase following the judgement.

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Koreans live in Japan, mostly a legacy of those who emigrated or were forced to move to Japan during its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula.

About 10 percent are believed to be affiliated with Chongryon, which charges that the community is persecuted by authorities and harassed by right-wing activists.

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