Man involved in rocket attack on U.S. Embassy returned to Japan after 20 years in federal prison
A Japanese man, recently freed after nearly 20 years in federal prison for his role in the 1986 rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, was returned from Louisiana to Japan Friday. On arrival, he was immediately arrested to face charges of involvement in a similar attack on Japan’s Jakarta embassy. Tsutomi Shirosaki, 67, was convicted in 1998 for joining in the assault on the U.S. embassy.
According to court documents, Shirosaki, identified by Japanese media as a member of the radical Japanese Red Army, participated in the attack on the two embassies – using three homemade rockets. The reports said the attacks included a car bomb set off outside a building housing Canada’s diplomatic mission to Indonesia. After his release from federal prison in Yazoo City, Miss. January 16, he was taken into custody by the Enforcement and Removal Operations Unit of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s bureau. U.S. Enforcement and Removal Operations agents, along with Japanese National Police Officers, escorted him on commercial flights from Alexandria, La., to Tokyo’s Narita airport, where he arrived Friday and was immediately taken into custody.
Initially, he is being accused of arson, according to Japanese media, for allegedly setting a fire to a hotel room in Jakarta, which police allege was an effort to destroy evidence of the earlier mortar attacks on the Japanese and U.S. embassies. Shirosaki has a long history with Japanese law enforcement. In was arrested for attempted bank robbery in Japan and sentenced to 10-years in prison in 1971. He was freed in 1977, along with other prisoners, in return for the release of hostages taken in the hijacking of a Japan Airlines plane in Dhaka, Bangladesh, according to Japanese media reports.
Red Army member Shirosaki arrested at Narita
NARITA, Chiba (Jiji Press) — Tokyo police arrested Japanese Red Army member Tsutomu Shirosaki at Narita Airport on Friday over mortar attacks on the Japanese and U.S. embassies in Jakarta in May 1986. The Metropolitan Police Department’s Public Security Bureau arrested Shirosaki, 67, on his arrival at the airport after his deportation from the United States, where he had served a jail term for his role in the U.S. Embassy attack. According to the Japanese arrest warrant, Shirosaki is suspected of attempted murder and arson in connection with the Japanese Embassy attack in the Indonesian capital. Shirosaki was among the six prisoners freed in 1977 to meet the demands of Japanese Red Army hijackers who forced a Japan Airlines plane to land in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka.
The Public Security Bureau has set up a special investigative unit to shed full light on his whereabouts and activities between his release in 1977 and arrest in Nepal in 1996, before his deportation to the United States. Shirosaki may have contacted seven Japanese Red Army members still on the run and members of the communist militant group’s predecessor body who fled to North Korea by hijacking JAL’s Yodo aircraft in 1970. The arrest warrant said Shirosaki tried to kill people by firing explosives toward the Japanese Embassy around 11:30 a.m. on May 14, 1986, and to set fire to a hotel room to destroy evidence. The Public Security Bureau put him on the international wanted list on suspicion of attempted arson.
Following additional investigations, the bureau became confident it could establish an attempted murder case against him. Shirosaki was born in Toyama Prefecture, and joined the predecessor organization after dropping out of the University of Tokushima, according to bureau sources. To help obtain funds for the group’s activities, Shirosaki took part in a series of attacks on post offices and financial institutions. He was arrested in Tokyo in March 1971 and received a 10-year prison sentence for these incidents.