High court upholds 20-year term for Shigenobu


The Tokyo High Court on Thursday upheld a 20-year prison term for one of the most notorious members of the Japanese Red Army, saying she played an indispensable role in plotting and aiding the 1974 seizure of the French Embassy in The Hague.

But presiding Judge Fumio Yasuhiro dismissed prosecutors’ claims that Fusako Shigenobu, 62, was one of the leading members of the guerrilla group at the time, noting the organization of the group had not been firmly established as of 1974.

Appealing a 2006 Tokyo District Court ruling, prosecutors had demanded that Shigenobu, also accused of passport forgery, be given a life term as one of the group’s top leaders at the time of the attack.

Shigenobu had maintained she was innocent and said the embassy attack was in fact orchestrated by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Her attorney, Kyoko Otani, said she would appeal the case to the Supreme Court at the end of the month.

Shigenobu was found guilty of conspiring with three other Red Army members to storm the embassy and take the French ambassador and 10 other employees hostage, shooting and seriously wounding two police officers. They then demanded that a fellow Red Army member be released from a French prison.

Shigenobu was not among the three who actually seized the embassy. The focal point of her trial was whether she conspired with fellow members in plotting the attack.

In dismissing her appeal, the judge said there is no room for extenuation, noting Shigenobu has shown little sense of remorse.

Shigenobu was a key member of the Japanese Red Army, which horrified the world with terrorist attacks in Israel, the Netherlands, Malaysia and elsewhere in the 1970s. She was arrested in Osaka in 2000. The Japanese Red Army disbanded in April 2001.

Shigenobu, once widely known among Japanese as a combative extremist beauty, smiled and pumped her right fist into the air many times before and after the verdict.

“I will keep fighting,” she told the gallery.