Chosen Soren, the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, the de facto embassy of North Korea in Japan, had its headquarters seized by the government last year. The court-ordered seizure represented what was nominally an attempt to wrench out of the organization, which at its height controlled 38 banks and credit unions, the public funds used to bail out these financial institutions after they went belly up post-Bubble.
The actual goal, and it is not an ignoble one, was to bankrupt, defenestrate and extirpate Chosen Soren. Like the national government it unofficially represents, Chosen Soren is a front for an extortion racket, prying donations out of the hands of North Korean residents of Japan in return for DPRK regime promises to spare the lives and livelihoods of relatives still stuck inside North Korea.
Bidding on the building and the attached land, situated north of the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda Ward, began on March 13, with Chosen Soren banned from participating in the auction. (Link)
That's the way to drive an evil organization out of the nation's heart!
The winning bidder in the Chosen Soren headquarters auction? The Shingon School Buddhist, Kagoshima-based temple Saifuku-ji, a religious corporation boasting not just a national congregation, not just a website, not just ties to celebrities (including, according the organization, Nagashima "Mr. Giants" Shigeo and former prime minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro) not just a fabulous YouTube intro video (Link - J) but its own YouTube channel.
Journalists caught up with Saifuku-ji abbot Ikeguchi Eikan yesterday at a branch temple on Ennoshima, in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Surprise, surprise: Ikeguchi is a Pyongyang frequent flyer, with close ties to the ruling Kim regime. (Link - J)
Asked about his organization's plans for the decrepit and quake-damaged structure, Ikeguchi improbably declared the building will be used as a religious training center and, more cryptically, as a center for "ethnic reconciliation" (minzoku yuwa).
Asked to elaborate, the abbot said that the central committee of the North Korean Worker's Party had told him it was willing to use the building as is. He said he was open to the idea of renting out the building to Chosen Soren... (Link - J)
Nice work at covering all the bases, Government of Japan.
Later - For fun, put "在日本朝鮮人総連合会中央本部" into the Google Maps search window and drop down into Google Street View to see the police guard with barricade and the armored police bus parked across the street from the building.