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Japanese terror group founder sorry for 'hurting innocent people' following release from jail

The co-founder of a Japanese terrorist group has apologised for hurting innocent people following her release from prison after serving a 20-year sentence.

Fusako Shigenobu, who helped form communist militant group Japanese Red Army, was convicted of masterminding the 1974 siege of the French Embassy in the Netherlands after being arrested in 2000 in Osaka, where she had been hiding.

The group sought to overthrow the Japanese government and start a world revolution.

They are believed to have been behind a machine-gun and grenade attack on the international airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, that killed 28 people in 1972.

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Shigenobu, who was not physically present during the attacks, was met by her daughter and a crowd of reporters in Tokyo upon her release from prison on Saturday.

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Shigenobu was met by her daughter and reporters in Tokyo. Pic: AP

“I feel strongly that I have finally come out alive,” she said.

“I have hurt innocent people I did not know by putting our struggles first.

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“Although those were different times, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise deeply.”

The Japanese Red Army, formed in 1971 and linked with Palestinian militants, took responsibility for several attacks including the takeover of the US Consulate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1975.

Fusako Shigenobu, Japanese communist activist and the former leader and founder of the now disbanded terrorist group, the Japanese Red Army (JRA), is released after her sentence in Akishima City, Tokyo on May 28, 2022. Fusako Shigenobu was charged as joint principals in a conspiracy the 1974 French Embassy attack in The Hague and sentenced to 20 years in prison. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )
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Shigenobu was not present at any of the attacks carried out by the group. Pic: AP

A year after her arrest, Shigenobu declared the group dissolved. Japanese media reports said she had undergone surgery for cancer during her incarceration.

Kozo Okamoto, who was injured and arrested in the Israeli airport attack, was released in 1985 in a prisoner exchange between Israeli and Palestinian forces and is reportedly in Lebanon.

Okamoto and several other members of the group are still wanted by Japanese authorities.

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