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Japanese authorities allowed the 19-year-old son of a Japanese Red Army member who is believed to be living in Lebanon to visit the Middle East country in early August, police sources revealed recently.

The decision could mean the government will change its stance on 20 children of Red Army Faction radicals who are living in North Korea, their supporters said.

The government has so far maintained that if they travel to Japan, they will not be allowed to return to North Korea.

The 19-year-old, who was born overseas and obtained Japanese nationality in 1997 after spending most of his life outside Japan, did not state the purpose of his trip to Lebanon.

However, it is believed he hoped to meet with his father, who is on an international wanted list in connection with the Japanese Red Army’s occupation of the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur in 1975. It was the youth’s first trip to the country since he obtained Japanese nationality.

The youth’s mother, Yukiko Ekita, 49, is also a Japanese Red Army member and is currently standing trial in Japan on charges of attempted murder. Neither the youth nor the father were named.

According to the police sources, the youth was born in a camp in Lebanon in 1981. He left the country for Latin America around 1993 and was with a 53-year-old Red Army member when she was detained in Peru in June 1996.

When he was found in Peru, he had no nationality. But he was allowed to enter Japan in July 1996.

He was granted Japanese nationality in spring 1997 when the government acknowledged that he was the son of Japanese parents, the sources said.

Nine Red Army Faction members in 1970 hijacked a Japan Airlines plane bound from Tokyo to Fukuoka, taking it first to Seoul and then to Pyongyang.

The nine hijackers were given political asylum in North Korea. Three of them reportedly have since died. Eighteen of their 20 children have obtained Japanese citizenship.

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