Japan Red Army founder free after 20y term

Yuri KageyamaAP
Fusako Shigenobu has been released from prison in Tokyo after serving a 20-year sentence.
Camera IconFusako Shigenobu has been released from prison in Tokyo after serving a 20-year sentence. Credit: AP

Fusako Shigenobu, who co-founded the Japanese Red Army terrorist group, has been released from prison after serving a 20-year sentence.

Shigenobu, 76, apologised for hurting innocent people.

"I feel strongly that I have finally come out alive," she said on Saturday, welcomed by her daughter and a crowd of reporters and supporters in Tokyo.

"I have hurt innocent people I did not know by putting our struggles first. Although those were different times, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise deeply," said Shigenobu, who wore a black hat and grey suit.

Shigenobu was convicted of masterminding the 1974 siege of the French Embassy in the Hague, the Netherlands. She was arrested in 2000 in Osaka in central Japan, where she had been in hiding.

The Japanese Red Army, formed in 1971 and linked with Palestinian militants, took responsibility for several attacks including the takeover of the US Consulate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1975.

The group is also believed to have been behind a 1972 machine-gun and grenade attack on the international airport near Tel Aviv, Israel that killed 28 people, including two terrorists, and injured dozens of people.

Shigenobu was not physically present in the attacks. A year after her arrest, she declared the group dissolved. Japanese media reports said Shigenobu had undergone surgery for cancer during her incarceration.

Kozo Okamoto, who was injured and arrested in the Israeli airport attack, was released in 1985 in a prisoner exchange between Israeli and Palestinian forces.

He is reportedly in Lebanon. Okamoto and several other members of the group are still wanted by Japanese authorities.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails