Yesterday, Japan’s Supreme Court upheld previous rulings allowing for the seizure of the headquarters of the General Association of North Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) due to unpaid debts of around $790 million.
The latest ruling upholds a number of previous judgments permitting the seizure of the building. There had been doubts over who owned it, but the court ruled that the building in central Tokyo can be considered Chongryon property despite apparent third-party ownership.
The ruling is just the latest blow suffered by the organization, which has been suffering from dwindling membership and funding for many years due to both reduced support from the North Korean authorities and loss of support from its core constituencies.
This has led to problems for many of Chongryon’s core organizations, in cultural and media fields, as well as its most famous affiliated institutions, ‘Chosun schools’, and even banks.
A spokesperson for Chongryon commented on the ruling, calling it “regrettable” before adding, “We hope that the situation can be resolved through dialogue.” However, it is growing increasingly likely that the building may now finally be seized, although the whole process could take months.