Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

Ex-Red Army member set for lay judge trial over Japanese Embassy attack

Tsutomu Shirosaki (Mainichi)

Former Japanese Red Army member Tsutomu Shirosaki, who is accused of attempted murder over a 1986 rocket attack on the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta, is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 21 in what will be the first lay judge trial for a crime against public security committed by an extremist group member.

    Shirosaki, 68, was one of nine prisoners whom the Japanese Red Army, a radical leftist group, demanded be released in exchange for hostages in the September 1977 hijacking of Japan Airlines Flight 472 mid-flight over India. He had been arrested in 1971 for his involvement in a series of armed robberies targeting financial institutions and was serving a 10-year prison term at the time of the hijacking. After his release, Shirosaki left Japan in October 1977.

    On May 14, 1986, two mortar shells were fired from a room on the eighth floor of a hotel in downtown Jakarta. One landed on a shade at the Japanese Embassy and the other on the premises of the adjacent former Soviet Union Embassy. Neither of the mortar shells exploded, and no one was injured. Around the same time, at least one mortar shell of the same kind was fired on the United States Embassy and a car bomb went off in front of the Embassy of Canada, both located in Jakarta.

    Japanese and American investigative authorities determined that the series of incidents were carried out by the same person. Fingerprints that Jakarata police found on cans and other objects left at the hotel room matched those of Shirosaki, and he was placed on an international wanted list as a Japanese Red Army terrorist.

    In September 1996, U.S. authorities captured Shirosaki in Nepal. Shirosaki claimed innocence, but the federal district court handed down a 30-year prison sentence in February 1998 for attempted murder and other charges in the U.S. Embassy attack. Shirosaki, however, was not indicted in the United States over the alleged attack on the Japanese Embassy.

    Shirosaki's sentence was shortened for good behavior at a U.S. prison, and he was freed in January 2015. He was arrested in Japan a month later after returning from the United States and indicted for attempted murder and other charges in the attack on the Japanese Embassy.

    Shirosaki is expected to state that he was not in Jakarta at the time of the incidents and plead not guilty in the upcoming trial.

    Also in The Mainichi

    The Mainichi on social media