2022 – “Empress of Terror”: The founder of the Japanese Red Army is released from prison | Japan

The founder of one of the most feared terrorist organizations of the 1970s has been released from a Japanese prison after serving a 20-year sentence for besieging the French embassy in the Netherlands.

Once dubbed the “Empress of Terror,” Fusaku Shigenobu founded the Japanese Red Army, a far-left group that has carried out armed attacks around the world in support of the Palestinian cause.

On Saturday, Shigenobu, 76, walked out with her daughter from a Tokyo prison where several supporters carried a banner that read “We love Fusaku.”

“I apologize for the inconvenience my arrest has caused so many people,” Shigenobu said after his release. “Half a century has passed… but we have harmed innocent people who were strangers by prioritizing our fight, like taking hostages.”

Fusaku Shigenobu during her arrest in 2000. Photo: Toshiyuki Aizawa/Reuters

She is believed to have directed the 1972 assault with machine gun and grenades on Tel Aviv’s Lod Airport, which killed 26 people and injured about 80 others.

Shigenobu lived as a refugee in the Middle East for 30 years, but was arrested in Osaka in November 2000 after secretly returning to Japan on a false passport and entering a hotel disguised as a man.

A former employee of the soy sauce company was sentenced six years later to two decades in prison for her role in the 1974 embassy siege in The Hague.

Shigenobu maintained her innocence during the siege, as three armed Red Army gunmen stormed the embassy and held the ambassador and 10 other employees hostage for 100 hours.

Two police officers were shot and seriously injured. France ended the standoff by releasing a Red Army fighter who had flown to Syria on a plane with the hijackers. Shigenobu did not personally participate in the attack, but the court said it coordinated the operation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Born in the poverty district of post-war Tokyo, Shigenobu’s journey to the Middle East began serendipitously when she was twenty years old, traversing a sit-in at a Tokyo university. Shigenobu soon became involved in the leftist movement and decided to leave Japan at the age of twenty-five.

She announced the dissolution of the Red Army from prison in April 2001 and was diagnosed with colon and colon cancer in 2008 and had to undergo multiple surgeries.

Shigenobu said Saturday that she will initially focus on her treatment, noting that due to her frail condition, she will not be able to “contribute to society.” But she told reporters, “I want to keep thinking [on my past] And live more and more with curiosity.ÔÇŁ

In a letter to a Japan Times reporter in 2017, she admitted that the group had missed out on its goals. “Our hopes were not fulfilled and it ended ugly,” she wrote.

era of terror

February 1971: Shigenobu establishes the Japanese Red Army in Lebanon

May 1972: A group of 26 were killed and 80 wounded in an attack on Lod Airport in Tel Aviv

September 1974: Stormed the French embassy in The Hague. The release of the ambassador and 10 others in exchange for the release of the imprisoned member

August 1975: More than 50 hostages detained at the embassy in Kuala Lumpur

September 1977: A Japan Airlines plane was hijacked and forced to land in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Japanese government releases six members, pays $6 million ransom

April 1988: Five dead in Red Army bomb attack on US military club in Naples

November 2000: Shigenobu arrested in Osaka