An international terrorist group formed around 1970 after breaking away from Japanese Communist League–Red Army Faction. Fusako Shigenobu led the JRA until her arrest in Japan in November 2000. The JRA’s historical goal has been to overthrow the Japanese Government and monarchy and to help foment world revolution. After her arrest, Shigenobu announced she intended to pursue her goals using a legitimate political party rather than revolutionary violence, and the group announced it would disband in April 2001. May control or at least have ties to Anti-Imperialist International Brigade (AIIB); also may have links to Antiwar Democratic Front—an overt leftist political organization—inside Japan. Details released following Shigenobu’s arrest indicate that the JRA was organizing cells in Asian cities, such as Manila and Singapore. The group had a history of close relations with Palestinian terrorist groups—based and operating outside Japan—since its inception, primarily through Shigenobu. The current status of the connections is unknown.
During the 1970s, JRA carried out a series of attacks around the world, including the massacre in 1972 at Lod Airport in Israel, two Japanese airliner hijackings, and an attempted takeover of the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. In April 1988, JRA operative Yu Kikumura was arrested with explosives on the New Jersey Turnpike, apparently planning an attack to coincide with the bombing of a USO club in Naples, a suspected JRA operation that killed five, including a US servicewoman. He was convicted of the charges and is serving a lengthy prison sentence in the United States. Tsutomu Shirosaki, captured in 1996, is also jailed in the United States. In 2000, Lebanon deported to Japan four members it arrested in 1997 but granted a fifth operative, Kozo Okamoto, political asylum. Longtime leader Shigenobu was arrested in November 2000 and faces charges of terrorism and passport fraud.
About six hard-core members; undetermined number of sympathizers. At its peak, the group claimed to have 30 to 40 members.
Location/Area of Operation
Location unknown, but possibly in Asia and/or Syrian-controlled areas of Lebanon.