United Red Army

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For the 2007 film, see United Red Army (film).
United Red Army
連合赤軍
Dates of operation 1971–1972
Leader(s) Tsuneo Mori
Ideology Communism
Notable attacks Asama-Sanso incident
Status Dissolved

The United Red Army (連合赤軍 Rengō Sekigun?) was a Japanese revolutionary armed group, established on 15 July 1971. It united the Red Army Faction, 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 1971–1972 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 31 December and the last on 12 February. The United Red Army leaders later did not admit that they had killed, but called it death by defeatism (敗北死 Haiboku shi?). 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.

In 1977, the Red Army hijacked a plane and forced it to land at the old Dhaka Airport; at that time there was also an air force mutiny going on in Dhaka. After negotiations led by Vice President Sattar, the terrorists released two-thirds of the hostages and flew off to another location.

United Red Army leader Tsuneo Mori killed himself in prison on 1 January 1973. The second-in-commands, Hiroko Nagata and Hiroshi Sakaguchi, were sentenced to death. Nagata died on 5 February 2011 from brain cancer while still being held in a detention facility. As of 2013, Sakaguchi is still alive in prison.

Fusako Shigenobu, the leader of the Lebanon-based Japanese Red Army, was a member of the Red Army Faction. She left Japan to train with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine at the end of February, 1971. Her group conducted its most deadly assault, the Lod airport massacre on 30 May 1972.

The group is the subject of the 2007 film United Red Army, directed by Kōji Wakamatsu.

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