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Police suspect arrested man is radical fugitive sought in 1971 killing of officer

Masaaki Osaka is pictured in this photo from the National Police Agency's website.

Osaka Prefectural Police have apprehended a man they believe to be an activist wanted for decades over a riot in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward that resulted in the death of a police officer in 1971, investigative sources said.

    Police believe the arrested man, who is said to have remained silent, to be 67-year-old Masaaki Osaka. Osaka, an activist of the far-left revolutionary group Japan Revolutionary Communist League, National Committee, commonly known as Chukaku-ha, was placed on a wanted list in connection with the riot, which resulted in the death of 21-year-old police officer Tsuneo Nakamura.

    Osaka went missing after the riot, and remained on the lam for 46 years, the longest of any fugitive designated by the National Police Agency (NPA).

    The man now being held by police was arrested in Hiroshima on suspicion of obstruction of official duties by hurling himself at an officer during the arrest of a Chukaku-ha activist on May 18, according to investigative sources. His face and other physical features are said to have led law enforcers to suspect he was the fugitive they had sought. They are carefully investigating his identity, and plan to subject him to a DNA test.

    According to investigative sources, Osaka took part in an attack on riot squad members with members of a student group affiliated with Chukaku-ha who were protesting against ratification of the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, in Shibuya Ward in November 1971. He is suspected to have clubbed Nakamura with a metal pipe and hit him with a Molotov cocktail, resulting in his death.

    Osaka was placed on a wanted list on suspicion of murder in 1972. Six others were arrested in connection with the incident, but the trial of one of them was suspended in 1981 for medical reasons. Following a revision to the Code of Criminal Procedure in 2010, the statute of limitations for murder was abolished, so the case against Osaka still stands.

    In November 2016, a Chukaku-ha publication called for the protection of Osaka, whom it said was "fighting unyieldingly," after the NPA offered up to 3 million yen for influential information leading to his arrest.

    Since the 1970s, Chukaku-ha is said to have been involved in many guerrilla attacks and incidents stemming from internal strife.

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