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2012年7月 1日 (日)

朝鮮総連 本部競売手続きを受け入れよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 1, 2012)
Insolvent Chongryon must accept auction of its headquarters
朝鮮総連 本部競売手続きを受け入れよ(6月30日付・読売社説)

It has become possible at long last for the building and land of the central headquarters of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, known as Chongryon, to be auctioned off.

The government-backed Resolution and Collection Corporation should proceed steadily with procedures to collect its loans to Chongryon.

In a lawsuit in which the RCC sought confirmation that the association is the de facto owner of the headquarters building and land, the Supreme Court on Wednesday turned down Chongryon's appeal, finalizing the court verdict entirely in favor of the RCC.

Chongryon's central office is situated in a prime location in the heart of Tokyo and is deemed the North Korean residents group's most valuable piece of property.

The top court's decision makes it likelier that Chongryon may be forced to move out of its head office.

Beginning in 1997, credit cooperatives for pro-Pyongyang Korean residents in Japan collapsed one after another.

The government, aiming to protect depositors, injected a huge amount of taxpayer money--more than 1 trillion yen--into 16 such financial institutions for pro-Pyongyang Koreans across the country.


Overdue loans total 62.7 billion yen

In the process of the cash injection, the RCC took over bad loans from the 16 credit cooperatives and reached the conclusion that 62.7 billion yen of the nonperforming loans had been extended to Chongryon.

Chongryon has therefore been obliged to pay back that amount to the RCC.

It is believed that Chongryon obtained the loans from the cooperatives almost coercively.

In Diet deliberations, the question was once raised of whether the funds might have been unlawfully remitted to North Korea.

Chongryon has no corporate status, and the central headquarters building and land have been registered as assets of a separate organization, a partnership company affiliated with the pro-Pyongyang Korean residents association.

In the court battle between the group and the RCC, decisions handed down by the first- and second-instance courts ruled that Chongryon "has the right to dispose of the head office and premises as there are no records that it paid [the partnership firm] for using them." The highest court has fully upheld those rulings.

As long as ownership by the partnership company is in name only, it is natural for the court to judge that Chongryon is the effective owner of the property.

Chongryon, for its part, is considered to lack the solvency to fully cover the 62.7 billion yen it owes.

The RCC has already sold Chongryon-related facilities at auction in such areas as Kyoto, Osaka, Aichi and Fukui prefectures, using the proceeds to cover part of the bad loans involved.


Public takes a dim view

The government-affiliated bad loan collection agency should calmly and steadily work toward securing a court decision for selling the Chongryon central headquarters building and land at auction.

Chongryon has so far maintained that the RCC has been acting on "a political motivation to drive us into dissolution by depriving us of our central headquarters, which is of pivotal importance to our activities as it has functions comparable to those of an embassy."

The RCC, however, has been acting simply for the purpose of fulfilling its mission of collecting the taxpayer money that was put into Chongryon.

Chongryon's argument is definitely off the mark.

The group instead must extend cooperation to the RCC in paying back its liabilities.

North Korea has abducted Japanese citizens and has carried out repeated missile launches and reckless nuclear tests.

The Japanese public has cast a skeptical eye on Chongryon, too, as it is under the leadership of Pyongyang.

Chongryon must take to heart that it can never be allowed to evade the obligation to repay the bad loans.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 30, 2012)
(2012年6月30日01時16分  読売新聞)


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