A man who died after setting himself on fire in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park on March 30 left a memo detailing plans for a terrorist attack carried out in 1972, sources said Saturday.
The attack was carried out by the Japanese Red Army at Lod airport in Tel Aviv. Authorities obtained the memo from among the man’s belongings and are analyzing the contents for further information on the activities of the Japanese leftist extremist group.
On May 30, 1972, three members of the Japanese Red Army fired machine guns indiscriminately in the arrival lobby of Lod airport. A shootout with Israeli police left 26 people dead and more than 70 injured.
The memo suggests that the terrorists had initially planned to attack the airport’s control tower, according to the sources.
On the evening of March 30, a 54-year-old man from Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture, poured gasoline over himself in a corner of Hibiya Park in central Tokyo. He then set fire to himself with a lighter.
A passerby, who was visiting the park to see cherry blossoms, called police. The man, who has not been identified, died shortly after he was admitted to a hospital.
When a police officer asked the man whether he had started the fire himself, the man reportedly raised his left hand, as if to say yes, the sources said.
It was later learned that the man was a former leftist activist involved in the planning of the Lod airport incident.
The man staged a hunger strike last September at the same spot in the park, protesting Israeli military activities in Palestine and U.S. operations in Afghanistan. A note found at his home expressed his support for Palestine.
Records show that he traveled to Lebanon in September 1971. He contacted Fusako Shigenobu, founder of the Japanese Red Army, and returned to Japan in February 1972, the sources said.
He was then involved in dispatching Kozo Okamoto, one of the attackers in the Lod airport raid, to Lebanon. In June the same year, the man was arrested for violation of the Passport Law and given a suspended prison term, sources said.
The memo shows that the man arrived in Beirut after he and two other senior members of the Red Army made a preliminary survey of Lod airport and took pictures of the airport’s facilities.
At that point, senior Red Army members and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were discussing a plan for the Japanese terrorists to attack the airport’s control tower, according to the memo.
After receiving a few months of military training by the PFLP, the man and the others traveled to Beirut in January 1972.
An accident resulting in the death of another Red Army member, however, alerted the Lebanese authorities to the presence of Japanese radicals. This forced the Red Army members to launch the airport attack earlier than planned, forcing them to abort the plan to attack the control tower, the sources said.
The man was identified by Lebanese authorities following the accident and he had to return to Japan before the attack. From Japan, he dispatched Okamoto and another member to Lebanon as replacements, according to the sources.
Okamoto survived the 1972 incident, but the two other Red Army members were killed in the shootout with Israeli police.
Okamoto was arrested, but was released by Israeli authorities in 1985 in a hostage swap. He was detained in Lebanon in 1997 for passport forgery. Following his release from prison in March 2000, he was given political asylum in Lebanon.
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