• Kyodo


Photographs have emerged of a building where four leftist Red Army Faction extremists who hijacked a Japan Airlines airplane and defected to North Korea in 1970 are living.

The apartment block is located in a village in an upland forested area about 40 minutes by road from central Pyongyang.

Nine members of a Red Army Faction hijacked the JAL plane while it was on a domestic flight from Tokyo to Fukuoka.

The four surviving hijackers still live in together, in a three-story apartment building, and are understood to have privileges that are rare in North Korea, including satellite receivers and the use of international telephone lines and e-mail.

Following the men’s defection, eight of their wives joined them from Japan and the families later had a total of 18 children. Locals came to know the neighborhood as the Japanese village.

Five hijackers are now dead, and all 18 children have returned to Japan. The group’s former leader, Takahiro Konishi, 69, is one of the four surviving members, and also living at the site are one of the men’s wives and one widow.

The four men are wanted worldwide on suspicion of violating the Hijack Prevention Law, while the two women and one of the men are on the wanted list for suspected involvement in the abductions of three Japanese individuals in Europe, charges which they deny.

The photos were obtained by Kyodo News. They were taken on a visit to North Korea by Reinin Shiino, 65, a journalist who traveled there from Beijing in late April.

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