Japanese Red Army
The Japanese Red Army
) is an international terrorist
group founded by Ms. Fusako Shigenobu
in February 1971
after breaking away from Japanese Communist League - Red Army Faction, with close ties to the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP
). The group, having about 40 members at its height, once was one of the most feared guerrilla movements, spreading terror around the world over a period of 16 years.
Stated goals were to overthrow the Japanese Government and monarchy and to start a world revolution.
The group is also known as the Anti-Imperialist International Brigade (AIIB), Nippon Sekigun, Nihon Sekigun, Holy War Brigade, and the Anti-War Democratic Front.
- Hurao Wako, former leader (?)
- Osamu Maruoka, former leader, arrested in November 1987.
- Fusako Shigenobu, founder and leader. In November 2000 she was arrested in Osaka, Japan, to the surprise of many, since she was thought to live in Lebanon. Ms. Shigenobu is accused of masterminding deadly attacks, kidnappings and hijackings.
- Yu Kikumura, was arrested with explosives on the New Jersey Turnpike and is serving a long prison sentence in the United States.
- Yoshimi Tanaka was sentenced to 12 years for the hijacking that ended in North Korea.
- Ekita Yukiko, a longtime JRA activist, was arrested in March 1995 in Romania and subsequently deported to Japan. She received a sentence of 20 years for attempted murder and violating the explosives law in a series of bombings targeting large companies in 1974 and 1975. The trial of Ekita originally started in 1975 but was suspended when she was released from prison in 1977 in a deal with the Japanese Red Army during the hijacking of a Japanese airliner to Bangladesh.
- Kozo Okamoto contributed in the attack on the Israeli airport in 1972. In May 1985 Okamota, who was jailed in Israel following the Tel Aviv airport attack, was freed in an exchange of prisoners between Israeli and Palestinian forces. Subsequently, he was imprisoned in Lebanon for three years for forging visas and passports. The Lebanese authorities granted Okamoto asylum in 1999 because he fought against Israel.
- Masao Adachi, Kazuo Tohira, Haro Wako, and Mariko Yamamoto were also imprisoned in Lebanon on charges of forgery yet were sent to Jordan and, as the Jordanian authorities refused to allow them into Jordan, handed over to Japan.
- The government hopes to extradite several others members from North Korea, which granted them asylum. The issue is one of several issues blocking the establishment of diplomatic ties between Pyongyang and Tokyo.
During the 1970s and 1980s JRA carried out a series of attacks around the world, including:
- March 31, 1970: hijacking of a domestic Japan Airlines Boeing 727 carrying 129 people at Tokyo International Airport. Eight Red Army members wielded samurai swords and carried a bomb during Japan's most infamous hijacking. The flight, bound for the city of Fukuoka, was forced to fly to Fukuoka, and later Gimpo Airport in Seoul, where all the passengers were freed. It then flew to North Korea, where the Red Army members defected and the crew members were released. Tanaka is one of nine Japanese Red Army members accused in the hijacking, but is the only one to be convicted. Three of Tanaka's alleged accomplices later died in North Korea and five remain there, though one may also have died, according to Japan's National Police Agency.
- May 1972: A machine gun and grenade attack on Israel's Lod Airport in Tel Aviv, now Ben Gurion International Airport, leaves 26 people dead, including two Red Army members, and about 80 others injured.
- July 1973: Red Army members lead PFLP guerrillas in hijacking a Japan Airlines (JAL) plane over the Netherlands. The passengers and crew are released in Libya, where hijackers blow up the plane.
- January 1974: Red Army members blamed for blowing up storage tanks at an oil refinery in Singapore.
- September 13, 1974: The French Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands is stormed, the ambassador and ten other people are taken hostage and a Dutch police woman, Hanke Remmerswaal, is shot in the back, puncturing a lung. After a few days of difficult communication and setting ultimatums, the hostages are freed in exchange for the release of a jailed Red Army member (Yatuka Furuya), $300,000 and use of a plane, that flies the hostage-takers first to Aden, Yemen, where they are not accepted, finally ending their voyage in Syria.
- August 1975: The Red Army takes more than 50 hostages at a building housing several embassies in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The hostages include the US consul and the Swedish charge d'affaires. The gunmen win the release of five imprisoned comrades and fly with them to Libya.
- September 1977:The Red Army hijacks a JAL plane over India and forces it to land in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Japanese Government frees six imprisoned members of the group and pays a $6m ransom.
- May 1986: The Red Army fires mortar rounds at the embassies of Japan, Canada and the United States in Jakarta, Indonesia.
- June 1987: A similar attack is launched on the British and United States embassies in Rome, Italy.
- April 1988: Red Army members bomb US military recreational (USO) club in Naples, Italy, killing five.
- In the same month, JRA operative Yu Kikumura was arrested with explosives on the New Jersey Turnpike highway, apparently to coincide with the USO bombing. He was convicted of these charges and is serving a lengthy prison sentence in the United States.
- A series of 17 bombings on buildings belonging to large corporations, including Mitsui & Co. and Taisei Corp, injuring 20 people. Eight people were killed in the bombing of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.'s head office building in Tokyo.