October 24, 2013
The Mongolian company that recently made a winning bid for the Tokyo headquarters of a pro-North Korean association at auction did so purely for business reasons, its president said Thursday.
Chuvaamed Erdenebat, who heads Avar Limited Liability Co., told reporters in Ulan Bator that its participation earlier this month in the bidding has “no links with any governments in Mongolia, Japan, North Korea and South Korea.”
The Mongolian firm, little known at home and abroad, has won an auction for the headquarters site and building of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan with a bid of 5.01 billion yen.
The association, known as Chongryon, serves as North Korea’s de facto mission in Japan in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Depending on the situation, the association needs to leave the building and there is a possibility that it cannot avoid scaling down its operations.
The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday postponed a decision on whether to approve the sale, as it is apparently examining if Avar has hidden financial ties with Chongryon.
Erdenebat said the 5.01 billion yen will be financed by “a foreign investment fund.”
“I will reveal the name of the fund after the Tokyo court makes a decision,” the 47-year-old president said, adding that the Mongolian company took part in the auction through a Japanese law-related firm.
The court decided in July 2012 to hold an auction for the headquarters in Tokyo’s central area as demanded by the Japanese government-backed Resolution and Collection Corp., which is owed about 62.7 billion yen by Chongryon following the collapse of financial institutions in Japan for pro-North Korean residents.
Mongolia and North Korea have had friendly relations for many years.
Next Monday, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj is scheduled to travel to North Korea to discuss bilateral and regional affairs with the country’s leader Kim Jong Un.
Elbegdorj will be the first head of state in the world to hold talks with Kim since he took up the post of first secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea in April last year, after the death of his father and longtime ruler Kim Jong Il.
Japan and Mongolia have good relations. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has been especially counting on Mongolia’s role in making progress on the issue of North Korea’s past abduction of Japanese nationals.
Last month in Tokyo, Abe discussed the abduction issue with his Mongolian counterpart Norov Altankhuyag.
Also on Sept. 29, Elbegdorj informally visited Japan and had a meeting with Abe for about an hour at the premier’s private residence in Tokyo.
The abduction issue remains a key stumbling block in establishing diplomatic relations between Japan and North Korea, with Pyongyang saying it has been resolved and Tokyo calling for a reinvestigation into the whereabouts of those abducted in the 1970s and 1980s.
Japan officially lists 17 nationals as having been abducted by North Korea, but suspects Pyongyang’s involvement in other disappearances. Five abductees were repatriated in 2002.