Japan Airlines Flight 351
|Date||March 31, 1970|
|Passengers||122 (excluding the hijackers)|
|Survivors||129 (excluding the hijackers)|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 727-89|
|Flight origin||Tokyo International Airport(Haneda)|
Japan Airlines Flight 351 was hijacked by nine members of the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction (a predecessor of the Japanese Red Army) on March 31, 1970, while flying from Tokyo to Fukuoka, in an incident usually referred to in Japanese as the Yodogo Hijacking (よど号ハイジャック事件 Yodogō Haijakku Jiken ). The hijackers took 129 hostages (122 passengers and seven crew members), later releasing them at Fukuoka Airport and Seoul's Kimpo Airport. They then proceeded to Pyongyang's Mirim Airport, where they surrendered to North Korean authorities, who offered the whole group asylum.
In 1985 Yasuhiro Shibata returned to Japan in secret to raise money for the group, was arrested, and was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Yoshimi Tanaka was arrested in Thailand with a large amount of counterfeit money and repatriated to Japan in March 2000, where he was sentenced; he died before completing his sentence. However, the other hijackers remain at large, according to Japan's National Police Agency. The leader of the group, Takamaro Tamiya died in 1995 and Yoshida Kintaro before 1985. Takeshi Okamoto and his wife Fukudome Kimiko were probably killed trying to flee North Korea. Takahiro Konishi, Shiro Akagi, Kimihuro Uomoto, Moriaki Wakabayashi still reside in North Korea; all except Takeshi Okamoto were confirmed to have been alive as of 2004[update] when they were interviewed by Kyodo News. In June 2004, the remaining hijackers made a request to North Korean authorities that they be allowed to return to Japan, even if they are to be punished for the hijacking.
The hijackers' motive was to find freedom in North Korea, the enemy of Japanese imperialist statism. Using North Korea as a base of operations, they could liberate South Korea from its oppression, then proceed to start workers' revolts across East Asia.
Moriaki Wakabayashi was an early member (bass player) in the long-running avant-garde rock band Les Rallizes Dénudés. The future Roman Catholic archbishop and cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao was one of the passengers on this flight. Japanese pop singer Mita Akira was also on this flight, as was Shigeaki Hinohara. Dr. Hinohara, at the age of 97 years and 4 months, is one of the world's longest-serving physicians and educators.
In a March 2010 interview with Kyodo News, Moriaki Wakabayashi stated that the hijacking was a "selfish and conceited" act. Wakabayashi added that he wished to return to Japan and was willing to face arrest and trial for his role in the hijacking.
The alleged mastermind of the hijacking, who did not take part in the actual operation, was Takaya Shiomi. Shiomi was arrested, convicted, and served 20 years in prison in Japan. After his release, suffering from poor health, Shiomi obtained a job as an attendant at a multi-level parking facility in Kiyose, Tokyo, where he was working as late as 2008. He mentioned that they were supposed to go to Cuba in the first place.
- Movements of the Japanese Red Army and the "Yodo-go" Group" (PDF), Japan: National Police Agency, 2003, retrieved 2007-03-15
- Steinhoff, Patricia, "Kidnapped Japanese in North Korea, The New Left Connection", Journal of Japanese Studies 30 (1): 123–142. The suspicious deaths of Kintaro and Okamoto are referred to on pages 136 and 137. Her research is based on the journalistic work of Takazawa Koji.
- 金日成 (1983). 統一戦線の理論と経験. チュチェ思想国際研究所. p. 29.
- Kyodo News, "Ex-Red Army Faction Member Says Airplane Hijacking Was 'Selfish'", March 31, 2010.
- Botting, Geoff, "From terror to parking cars", Japan Times, 11 May 2008, p. 9.
- Watts, Jonathan (9 September 2002). "Japanese hijackers go home after 32 years on the run". The Guardian (London).