Japanese Red Army

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The Japanese Red Army (日本赤軍 Nihon Sekigun?, JRA) was a far-left militia founded by Fusako Shigenobu early in 1971 in Lebanon. It sometimes called itself Arab-JRA after the Lod airport massacre.


Red Army Faction in Japan

Shigenobu had been a leading member of the Red Army Faction (Sekigun-ha) in Japan, whose roots lay in the militant new-left Communist League. Advocating imminent revolution, they set up their own group, declaring war on the state in September 1969. The police arrested many of them very soon, its founder and intellectual leader Takaya Shiomi was in jail in 1970. The Sekigun lost about 200 members and the very few left merged with a maoist group to form the Rengo Sekigun or United Red Army in July, 1971. This group grew notable because its members slaughtered twelve of their own in its training camp hideout in the Japanese Alps in the winter of that year. A weeklong siege by hundreds of police, the Asama-Sanso incident ended this fiasco. The Red Army in Japan was finished. Fusako Shigenobu had left Japan with only a handful of dedicated people, but her group is said to have had about 40 members at its height and was from the suicidal Lod airport attack on one of the best-known armed leftist groups in the world.[1] The Japanese Red Army, Nihon Sekigun from 1971 had very close ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). By 1972 the United Red Army in Japan was finished and the Shigenobu group dependent on the PFLP for financing, training and weaponry.

The JRA's stated goals were to overthrow the Japanese government and monarchy and to start a world revolution.

The group was also known as the Anti-Imperialist International Brigade (AIIB), Holy War Brigade, and the Anti-War Democratic Front.

In April 2001, Shigenobu issued a statement from detention declaring the Japanese Red Army had disbanded.[2]


  • Haruo Wakō, former leader, arrested February 1997.
  • Osamu Maruoka, former leader, arrested November 1987.
  • Fusako Shigenobu, founder and leader, arrested in Osaka, Japan, November 2000. This surprised many people since she was thought to live in Lebanon. Shigenobu is accused of orchestrating attacks, kidnappings and hijackings. At one time labeled by critics as "the most feared female terrorist in the world"[citation needed], she helped plan the 1972 attack at Lod Airport. A court in Tokyo sentenced her in February 2006 to serve 20 years in prison.
  • Yū Kikumura was arrested with explosives on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1988 and served a long prison sentence in the United States. In April 2007 Kikumura was released from US incarceration and immediately arrested upon his return to Japan. He was released in October 2007. [1]
  • Yoshimi Tanaka, was sentenced to 12 years for the Yodo-go hijacking that ended in North Korea.
  • Yukiko Ekita, a long-time JRA leader, 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 was originally started in 1975 but was suspended when she was released from prison in 1977. Her release was part of a deal with the Japanese Red Army during the hijacking of a Japanese airliner to Bangladesh.
  • Kōzō Okamoto is the only survivor of the group of three guerilleros attacking the Israeli Lod airport in 1972, now called Ben Gurion International Airport. He was jailed in Israel, but in May 1985, Okamoto was set free 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 was alleged to have been tortured in prison in Israel. At his stay in Lebanon, Okamoto converted to Islam to prevent being sent home.[3]
  • Masao Adachi, Kazuo Tohira, Haruo Wakō, and Mariko Yamamoto were also imprisoned in Lebanon on charges of forgery yet were sent to Jordan. As the Jordanian authorities refused to allow them into Jordan, they were handed over to Japan. In January 2005, Yamamoto shoplifted dried cuttlefish (a Japanese popular relish taken with beer) at a supermarket in Tokyo and was arrested.[citation needed]
  • Kuniya Akagi, a collaborator of the JRA, was arrested after returning to Osaka from Pyongyang via Beijing in order to be questioned over the kidnapping of three Japanese nationals in Europe by North Korean spies in the 1980s. He is linked to Shirō Akagi, who took part in the Yodo-go hijacking (See also: Japan Airlines Flight 351).[4]
  • The government hopes to extradite several others members from North Korea, which granted them asylum. The issue is one of several blocking the establishment of diplomatic ties between Pyongyang and Tokyo.

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