Chongryun HQ sold to ex-intelligence head

Pro-Pyongyang group still using site

Kyodo News

Chongryun has sold its head office in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, to an investment advisory firm headed by a former chief of the Public Security Intelligence Agency, which keeps tabs on the pro-Pyongyang group, according to the public property register.

The register shows that the head office of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan — a 10-story building on 2,390 sq. meters of land — was sold in late May to the investment advisory Harvest, run by Shigetake Ogata and based in Meguro Ward.

Chongryun still occupies the premises, but no information has been released about the terms of its continued use of the property.

Harvest was set up last September, and Ogata, now a lawyer in private practice, became president in April, according to the company’s commercial registration. Ogata’s residence is listed as the company’s location.

Ogata became head of the Public Security Intelligence Agency, which monitors groups for subversive activities, in July 1993 after serving as head of the public security department of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office. He left the agency to become head of the high public prosecutor’s office in Sendai and then in Hiroshima before retiring from public service in June 1997.

Ogata and Chongryun declined comment on the sale.

The intelligence agency said it had no part in the transaction, which it learned of during its monitoring of Chongryun, and an agency spokesman said Ogata had never intervened in the agency’s surveillance of Chongryun.

The agency “is not in a position to comment on the acts of a private individual who has already retired from public service,” the spokesman said.

Chongryun has been arguing with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government about taxes on the property.

The metropolitan government began levying fixed-asset taxes on the building and land in July 2003, changing its position that they were exempt from taxation because it was a de facto diplomatic mission for North Korea, which does not have an embassy in Japan.

The metropolitan government seized the property after it said Chongryun had not paid the taxes by the deadline. The property was released in April after the group paid the taxes.

Chongryun now has a lawsuit in the Tokyo District Court to have the taxes nullified.

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