The Tokyo District Court on Wednesday sentenced the wife of a Japanese Red Army Faction hijacking fugitive to a suspended 18-month prison term for disobeying a Foreign Ministry order to surrender her passport.
Tamiko Uomoto, 51, had been on an international wanted list since 1993 after ignoring a 1988 order to return her passport on suspicion that she was involved in activities harmful to public security. Allegations later surfaced that she was involved in the abduction of a Japanese national to North Korea.
Her lawyers had strongly denied her involvement in any subversive activities. She had pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying there was no legal basis for the ministry to take away her passport. Her sentence has been suspended for four years.
Presiding Judge Takaaki Oshima said there was evidence that she was in contact with a North Korean spy in Copenhagen who apparently helped kidnap university student Keiko Arimoto from the city in 1983.
Arimoto is one of 13 Japanese nationals North Korea has admitted were abducted to the reclusive state in the 1970s and 1980s.
“The defendant married a Japanese Red Army Faction hijacker and was involved in the group’s activities, using her Japanese passport without revealing that fact,” the judge said.
The fugitives, who are wanted in connection with the 1970 hijacking of a Japan Airlines jetliner to Pyongyang, had been under the protection of North Korea, which has no diplomatic ties with Japan.
“There is enough reason for the foreign minister to assume that the defendant can significantly and directly harm Japanese national interests and security.”
Oshima said the court decided to suspend her sentence because there is no proof that she used her passport for illegal purposes after receiving the order to surrender it.
Uomoto was found to have falsely reported her address as that of her parental home in Osaka when she renewed her passport at the Japanese Embassy in Switzerland in 1986. She was living in North Korea at the time. Uomoto was arrested in February after returning to Japan from Pyongyang.
She left Japan in 1976 and married Kimihiro Uomoto, 56, formerly known as Kimihiro Abe, around 1977. He is one of nine Japanese Red Army Faction leftists wanted in the hijacking.
Of the nine, Kimihiro Uomoto and three others are still in North Korea. Three others have since died and the remaining two returned to Japan and were convicted.
Kimihiro Uomoto is on an international wanted list for the Arimoto abduction.
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