It was one of the most dramatic scenes in Japanese television history. Fifty years ago this month, on Feb. 28, 1972, much of the country was glued to the television as a 10-day standoff between the police and members of a militant left-wing group, the United Red Army (URA), reached its dramatic conclusion.
Asama-Sanso lodge in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, was the setting for the siege. Five armed URA members held the wife of the lodgekeeper hostage until the police stormed in. She was rescued, but two officers and one civilian died in the attack. The URA radicals were subsequently arrested.
Three months later, three members of the Japanese Red Army, another militant group, carried out the Lod Airport Massacre — a gun attack in Israel that left 26 people and two attackers dead. The two incidents, plus revelations of internal purges, led to a strong backlash against radical left-wing groups in this country.