• Kyodo News


Police obtained an arrest warrant Thursday for a Japanese man who has been living in North Korea with Red Army Faction hijackers and who is reportedly arranging to return to Japan as early as June.

Kuniya Akagi, 52, from Kumamoto Prefecture, is the brother-in-law of Shiro Akagi, one of the Red Army Faction fugitives wanted in the March 1970 hijacking of a Japan Airlines jetliner to Pyongyang, the Metropolitan Police Department said.

Police plan to put him on an international wanted list through Interpol on suspicion that he traveled to North Korea in the 1980s when visiting the country was banned under Japan’s passport law. Shiro Akagi is already on an international wanted list for the hijacking.

While living in Vienna between 1982 and 1987, Kuniya Akagi, who then went by his family name of Yonemura, got to know the sister of the Red Army Faction member, and later moved to North Korea with her. In April, he adopted her name via her family registry in Japan, police sources said.

The wife and the couple’s two daughters have since 2003 moved to Japan, the sources said.

Kuniya Akagi plans to return as early as in June for the first time in more than 20 years, the sources said.

Known to have contributed articles under the pen name Jun Ogawa to publications by a group related to the hijackers, he sent letters to his parents and sister in Japan in 2004 for the first time in 18 years to tell them he was living in North Korea.

He also told them his passport expired in 1991 and he could not leave North Korea because he had children and members of his family had health problems, the sources said.

Since he was staying in Vienna in the mid-1980s, the MPD suspects Akagi may know something about the kidnappings of three Japanese citizens from Europe to North Korea, including Keiko Arimoto, who was abducted in Copenhagen in 1983. The MPD believes Red Army Faction hijackers and their associates were involved in the abductions.

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