Ex-leader of brutal Japan far-left group dies: reports

TOKYO — The ex-leader of an armed Japanese leftist group from the 1970s has died while on death row, having been in jail since her 1972 arrest over the savage killings of 14 fellow radicals, according to reports.

Hiroko Nagata, 65, a central figure in the now-defunct extremist group the United Red Army, died late Saturday due to multiple organ failure, Jiji Press and other news outlets said, quoting Japan’s Justice Ministry.

The United Red Army was a small group born out of a broader far-left movement, which promoted armed communist revolution and eventually became notorious for its extreme brutality.

In August 1971, Nagata conspired with another member to kill two people who had tried to leave the group.

Over the following year she and the United Red Army’s chairman led the horrific group killings of another 12 members who were deemed not revolutionary enough and were beaten, stabbed and tortured.

After her arrest, other United Red Army radicals took a woman hostage at a mountain lodge in snowy central Japan, in a televised crisis that lasted ten days.

A riveted Japanese public watched the 1972 drama unfold, culminating in police storming the lodge. The hostage and radicals survived but two police officers and one civilian were killed during the ordeal.

In recent years, Nagata had been bedridden and under treatment for brain atrophy and aspiration pneumonia, Jiji Press said.

She underwent surgery for a brain tumour in 1984, and had long been ill.

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