Japan Could Tax North Korea Offices

From the Donga:

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan has decided to ask local autonomous organizations to levy local taxes on offices being used by Jochongryeon, a pro-North Korean residents’ league in Japan, according to Japanese newspaper reports.

The Yomiuri reported yesterday that the Liberal Democratic Party will send official documents to local autonomous groups asking them to levy the taxes. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe gave the similar directions to the Ministry of Public Management Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications last February.

According to a survey by Japan’s Ministry of Public Management Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications, there are 19 local autonomous organizations that exempt buildings such as Chosun Hall from paying local taxes, and 13 local autonomous organizations that partly exempt taxation across Japan. Chosun Hall is the building used by Jochongryeon for educational and cultural purposes.

The measures by the Japanese government and the ruling party seem to be aimed at increasing pressure on North Korea and seeking solutions to the Japanese abduction issue.

In the past, Japan viewed Jochongryeon as a quasi-diplomatic organization and did not levy taxes on it. But as public opinion has turned against North Korea due to the abduction issue, some local autonomous organizations stopped their tax exemptions starting in 2003.

The Japanese government is squeezing the group’s financial resources by collecting receivable bonds from Jochongryeon-related financial institutions as well.

Estimates of the amount of money sent by Jochongryeon to North Korea range from $200 million to $600 million a year, to just a few million. As a result, it is hard to predict how much damage the taxation will inflict on North Korea.


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