2014年03月26日

Japan agrees to return Cold War era nuclear material to US

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Japan agrees to return Cold War era nuclear material to US

Kosuke Takahashi, Tokyo - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

23 March 2014

Japan and the United States on 24 March agreed that Tokyo will return about 500 kg of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium supplied by Washington for research purposes during the Cold War.

The agreement came as more than 50 world leaders attended the third Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, the Netherlands: an initiative by US President Barack Obama aimed at reducing the risk of nuclear material ending up in terrorists' hands.

"Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe and President Obama pledged to remove and dispose all highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium from the Fast Critical Assembly [FCA] at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency in Japan," the two countries said in a joint statement.

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posted by Kosuke at 01:54| Comment(0) | Jane's Defence Weekly

Sale of pro-Pyongyang group’s headquarters approved

Here is my latest story in NK news.

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Sale of pro-Pyongyang group’s headquarters approved

Japanese real-estate investment firm’s purchase confirmed by Tokyo District Court

March 24th, 2014
Kosuke Takahashi

A Japanese court on Monday issued a ruling allowing a real-estate investment firm in western Japan to buy the Tokyo headquarters of the country’s main pro-North Korea organization.

The Tokyo District Court approved the sale of the building and land of the Tokyo headquarters of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, known as Chongryon, to Marunaka Holdings, a property investment company based in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture in western Japan.

Chongryon immediately filed an appeal against the decision.

The approval comes after the court regarded a 5.01 billion yen ($49 million) rebid for the property by the Mongolia-based Avar Limited Liability Company as null and void because it submitted flawed documents to the court.

Marunaka was the only other bidder in an October 2013 auction that the Mongolian firm had won.

Marunaka offered to buy the property for 2.21 billion yen, less than half the amount that the Mongolia firm offered.

“We absolutely cannot accept the ruling as we will suffer a tremendous and unreasonable loss of 2.8 billion yen,” a spokesman at Chongryon told NK News on Monday. “We hope a third bid will justly take place now.”

Experts are expecting this sale to Marunaka to be used as a tool for political maneuvering by both Japan and North Korea, as the two nations resume high-level official talks for the first time in 16 months on March 30-31.

“North Korea is clearly trying to use this as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Japan such as on the abduction issue,” Hideshi Takesada, an expert on regional security at Takushoku University in Tokyo, told NK News on Monday.

Takesada also pointed out that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s special assistant Koichi Hagiuda, a member of the lower house of parliament, on Sunday suggested that the sale of Chongryon’s Tokyo headquarters will be involved in the political situation surrounding Japan-North Korea relations.

Takesada said Hagiuda had said this on a TV program where both of them appeared. “Hagiuda went into depth by connecting Japan-North Korea negotiations to the sale of Chongryon’s headquarters, although this did not make a big news headline,” said Takesada, a former executive director of the National Institute for Defense Studies in Tokyo, the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s think-tank.

Takesada expects many brokers, agents and others from Japan, North Korea and South Korea to start lobbying Marunaka for their own advantages.

Since Pyongyang has no diplomatic relations with Tokyo, the Chongryon headquarters have for decades served as North Korea’s de facto embassy in Japan. Chongryon and the pro-South Korean Mindan organization have been rivals for decades, bisecting Japan’s Korean community.

Picture: Wikimedia Commons
posted by Kosuke at 01:43| Comment(0) | NK News