The United Red Army (連合赤軍, Rengō Sekigun) was a Japanese left-wing paramilitary group, established on July 15, 1971. It united the Red Army Fraction, led in 1971 by Tsuneo Mori and the maoist Revolutionary Left Wing of the Japanese Communist Party, led by Hiroko Nagata. The United Red Army had 29 members and lost 14 by killing them in less than a year. Early in August, two defectors were lynched and their bodies buried in Inba numa marsh, Chiba Prefecture. In the winter of 1971-’72 the United Red Army was hiding in the mountains in Gunma Prefecture. They established camps and trained for military purposes. The leaders of the United Red Army encouraged their fighters to examine their weaknesses in criticism and self-criticism and these sessions turned into lynchings. The group purged itself one by one of members deemed not sufficiently revolutionary. Many of the twelve victims died tied to posts in the open, exposed to the elements, but others were beaten to death or slaughtered with knives. The first died on December, 31 and the last on February, 12. The United Red Army leaders later did not admit that they had killed, but called it death by defeatism (敗北死). In mid-February two men escaped and the remaining paramilitaries decided to abandon their mountain base. But the police had already closed in on them. Tsuneo Mori and Hiroko Nagata were caught and then the others, but five militants escaped, took a woman hostage and held out for nine days in a holiday lodge, in the Asama-Sanso incident. By the end of the siege they had shot and killed two policemen and a civilian.
United Red Army leader Tsuneo Mori killed himself in prison on Jan. 1, 1973. The second in command, Hiroko Nagata and Hiroshi Sakaguchi were sentenced by death but are still alive in prison.
Fusako Shigenobu, the leader of the Lebanon based Japanese Red Army was a member of the Red Army Fraction. She left Japan to train with the PFLP at the end of February, 1971. Her group conducted its most deadly assault, the Lod airport massacre on May 30, 1972.
The group is the subject of the 2007 film United Red Army, directed by Kōji Wakamatsu.
Chronology of Japan Red Army (JRA) history:
15 June 1960
Demonstration of 100,000 people around the National Assembly building, protesting about the Japan-US Security Treaty. Michiko Kanba, a 4th-year student at Todai University, aged 22, was killed.
The Japanese government decided to build an international airport at Sanrizuka, Narita City, Chiba Prefecture, and ordered the inhabitants to move out.
8 October 1967
To prevent Prime Minister Sato visiting Vietnam, students clashed with riot police. Hiroaki Yamazaki of Kyoto University, aged 19, was killed.
15 April 1968
The National Tax Administration Agency declared that there were 2 billion yen unaccounted for in the administration department of Nihon University (aka Nichidai).
23 May 1968
Nihon University experienced its first demonstration. On May 27, the All-Campus Joint Struggle Committee of Nihon University was formed.
20 October 1968
Students of The Socialist Students Union stormed the Defence Agency.
21 October 1968
International Anti-War Day. To protest against the refueling of jet planes at Yokota airbase, there was a conflict in Shinjuku. 734 people were arrested
18 January 1969
About 8,500 riot police broke into the Yasuda Hall of Todai University, to raise a blockade of barricades. The blockade was raised the next day.
28 April 1969
Okinawa Day. 100,000 people gathered to demand the return of Okinawa and the annulment of the Japan-US Security Treaty. They clashed with riot police. 956 people were arrested.
28 August 1969
The Red Army Faction of the Communist League (RAF) was formed in a gathering at a youth hostel in Jogashima.
21 October 1969
International Anti-War Day. Different groups of students clashed in Shinjuku. 1,505 people were arrested.
5 November 1969
53 members of RAF disrupted military training at Daibosatsu Toge and were all arrested.
16 November 1969
Protests against Prime Minister Sato’s visit to America. 2,093 people were arrested. He left for America the next day.
On the run from the police, Tsuneo Mori was persuaded by Takamaro Tamiya to come back to the RAF.
15 March 1970
Takaya Shiomi, leader of the RAF, was arrested.
31 March 1970
9 members of the RAF, led by Takamaro Tamiya, hijacked “Yodo”, a Japan Airlines plane and flew it to North Korea.
7 June 1970
Hiroyuki Takahara, one of the members of the RAF politburo, was arrested. During the same period there were, in all, more than 200 members of the RAF arrested.
18 December 1970
Three activists of a breakaway group of the Japanese Communist Party, the “Revolutionary Left Faction” (RLF), raided a police station in Kamiakatsuka, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo. One of the activists was shot dead.
Tsuneo Mori made contact with Hiroko Nagata of the RLF.
17 February 1971
Koichi Teraoka, Masakuni Yoshino and others attacked a gun shop in Moka City, Tochigi Prefecture, taking away a haul of shotguns and other weapons.
Members of the RAF, including Kunio Bando, carried out “Operation M”, attacking banks and post offices and stealing cash.
28 February 1971
Fusako Shigenobu of the RAF, in charge of “international development”, escaped to Lebanon.
Tsuneo Mori handed cash to Hiroko Nagata in exchange for firearms.
15 July 1971
Members of the RAF and the RLF merged, becoming the Unified Red Army.
A month later, they changed their name to the United Red Army (URA).
4 August 1971
Yasuko Hayaki, who had escaped from the RLF, was caught by Party members and lynched in Inbanuma, at the age of 21.
10 August 1971
Shigenori Mukaiyama, an escapee from the RLF, was caught by Party members and lynched in an apartment in Kodaira. He was 21.
3 December 1971
The RAF and the RLF started military training together at the Niikura Mountain Base in Yamanashi Prefecture. This continued until December 7.
15 December 1971
The RLF’s Haruna Mountain Base was built. On December 20, Tsuneo Mori and Kunio Bando joined.
27 December 1971
Yoshitaka Kato and his girlfriend Kazuko Kojima demanded that the Party’s leaders accept criticism. The RLF imposed sanctions on them.
29 December 1971
The RLF imposed sanctions on Michio Ozaki.
31 December 1971
Mieko Toyama, Masatoki Namekata and Ryuzaburo Shindo of the Niikura Mountain Base transferred to the Haruna Mountain Base. Michio Ozaki died at the age of 21.
1 January 1972
Ryuzaburo Shindo was lynched. He was 21. Kazuko Kojima was also killed, at the age of 22.
2 January 1972
Yasuhiro Uegaki, Jun Yamazaki and Mikio Aoto joined the Haruna Mountain Base. That same night Mieko Toyama and Masatoki Namekata were both lynched.
4 January 1972
Yoshitaka Kato died at the age of 22.
7 January 1972
Mieko Toyama died at the age of 25.
9 January 1972
Masatoki Namekata died at the age of 22.
18 January 1972
Koichi Teraoka was executed at the age of 24. He wasn’t lynched: Tsuneo Mori passed the death sentence.
20 January 1972
Jun Yamazaki was executed at the age of 21. Again, not a lynching: Tsuneo Mori passed the death sentence.
26 January 1972
Hiroshi Sakaguchi initiated the lynching of Yamamoto during the construction of the Kasho Mountain Base. At about the same time, Setsuko Otsuki and Michiyo Kaneko were lynched at the Haruna Mountain Base.
29 January 1972
The members who had stayed at the Haruna Mountain Base now also transferred to the the Kasho Mountain Base.
30 January 1972
Junichi Yamamoto died at the age of 28. Setsuko Otsuki died at the age of 23.
4 February 1972
Michiyo Kaneko, eight months’ pregnant with Masakuni Yoshino’s child, died at the age of 23. Around this time Takashi Yamada’s was also lynched.
6 February 1972
Yasuko Yamamoto ran away. The following day, Torayoshi Maezawa also ran away.
12 February 1972
In the cave in Myogi mountain where he was hiding, Takashi Yamada died at the age of 27.
16 February 1972
Police found the Haruna Mountain Base and began an assault on the mountain.
19 February 1972
News was released that Yasuhiro Uegaki, Mikio Aoto, Makie Terabayashi and Kazuko Ito were all arrested in Karuizawa. Five other members, including Hiroshi Sakaguchi, escaped to Asama Mountain Lodge.
21 February 1972
The American President, Richard Nixon, visited China and hold talks with Mao Zedong.
28 February 1972
Riot police broke into Asama Mountain Lodge, after using a wrecking ball on the wall and water cannon on the inside. Hiroshi Sakaguchi, Michinori Kato, Motohisa Kato and Kunio Bando were all arrested.
30 May 1972
The Japanese Red Army (JRA) attacked Lod airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.
1 January 1973
Tsuneo Mori committed suicide in Tokyo Prison.
4 August 1975
The Japanese Red Army took over the American Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, securing the release of five people from prison in Japan: Jun Nishikawa and Kazuo Tohira of the JRA, Kunio Bando of the URA, Hisashi Matsuda of the RAF and Norio Sasaki of the East Asia Anti-Japan Front.
16 June 1982
Hiroko Nagata of the URA and Hiroshi Sakaguchi both received the death penalty.
15 February 1997
Kozo Okamoto, Haruo Wako, Kazuo Tohira, Masao Adachi and Mariko Yamamoto were detained in Lebanon.
18 March 2000
Apart from Kozo Okamoto, all the detainees in Lebanon were deported to Japan.
8 November 2000
Fusako Shigenobu of the JRA was detained in Osaka.
14 April 2000
Fusako Shigenobu declared the dissolution of the JRA.
30 March 2002
Takao Himori, a former member of the JRA, protested about the murder and land theft in Palestine by immolating himself in Hibiya Park, expressing his wishing that Palestinian children would one day know freedom.