East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front
|East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front
|Dates of operation||1972-75|
|Motives||To foment an Anti-Japan revolution against the State of Japan|
The East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front (東アジア反日武装戦線 Higashi Ajia Hannichi Busō Sensen) was a New Left Japanese armed struggle organization that carried out terrorist bombings targeting corporations in the 1970's, such as one against the offices of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 1974 which killed eight. From the start investigators classified it as a far-left illegal group inspired by anti-Japanese anarchism. Its declared ideology is Anti-Japaneseism.
- 1 Origins and history
- 2 Developments since the EAAJAF's demise
- 3 Distinguishing characteristics
- 4 Copycat crimes
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 External links
Origins and history
L-Class Struggle Committee of Hosei University
The roots of the East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front lie in the L-Class Struggle Committee which was formed in the spring of 1970 by Masashi Daidōji enrolled in history courses at the department of humanities of Hosei University. The L-Class Struggle Committee's name comes from the university class that Daidōji was affiliated with, and factionally it was classified as "non-sect radical", a Japanese New Left movement who refused to align with the communists or any other established group. Because he called upon the philosophy and literature students of other departments to participate, membership for a time swelled to more than 100 people, but along with the demise of the influential Zenkyoto, or All Campus Joint Struggle Committee, the L-Class Struggle Committee also naturally came to an end. Daidōji then dropped out of the university.
The Research Group
In August 1970 a "Research Group" was set up centering on Daidōji and the principal members of the L-Class Struggle Committee. This Group did intensive studies on the "evil deeds" of Japanese imperialism in Asia which fomented among them extreme anti-Japanese ideas. They used books such as Park Kyung Sik's Chōsenjin Kyōsei Renkō no Kiroku ("Records on the Forced Recruitment of Koreans") as their then current study material.
At the same time they also had an interest in urban guerrilla warfare and studied material on resistance movements.
Before long these two topics converged into the idea that they had to build an armed anti-Japanese movement. In January 1971 they were among other things undertaking their first experiments with homemade bombs.
Start of the "campaign struggle"
To start off it was decided that they would blow up structures that were symbols of Japanese imperialism as part of the so-called "campaign struggle" making an appeal to the masses. They undertook three attacks, the bombing at the Koa Kannon temple on 12 December 1971, the bombing of the Soji-ji Ossuary on 6 April 1972, and the bombing of the Fusetsu no Gunzo and Institute of Northern Cultures on 23 October 1972. They considered these targets to be associated respectively with Japan’s participation in World War II, the Japanese colonization of Korea, and the subjugation of the Ainu of Hokkaido.
After these three attacks, they decided to shift to full-blown terrorist bombings.
Birth of the East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front
At the end of the year 1972, they decided on the name East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front. However, they were aware that this was a name that could be used generically by any anti-Japanese group, and that they needed individual names for their own cells. Daidōji and his team settled on the name "Wolf" to express an image of proud independence.
In 1973 they were preparing for their attacks, developing bombs and saving up a war chest to fund their operations. They constructed the bombs with the tools and basic necessities that they had on hand, but there were also members who dug under the floor of their own apartments and created underground bomb-making cellars. In addition, to bring their messages to the public they set about writing their own tract, Hara Hara Tokei, which they published in March 1974. On 14 August 1974 they tried to blow up the iron bridge over which Emperor Hirohito's royal train was travelling, which they code-named the "Rainbow Operation". However, the plot was aborted because a member was spotted shortly before it was to be put into action.
Then the following day in South Korea an attempt on the life of President Park Chung-hee was made by Chongryon member Mun Segwang, a militant who hailed from the "Armed Front of High School Students for Violent Revolution", an organization affiliated with the Proletarian Army that in turn had a number of ties with anarchists. The EAAJAF's Wolf cell was spurred into new terrorist bombings in sympathy with Mun Segwang.
On 30 August 1974 they exploded a bomb at the Tokyo head office of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, killing 8 and wounding 376 people. This terrorist attack caused destruction that far surpassed EAAJAF's expectations, and from there they launched serial bombings against Japanese corporations with the newly joined "Scorpion" and "Fangs of the Earth" cells until May of next year.
At first Ryu Ota, who, like the EAAJAF, advocated an "Ainu revolution" at that time, was suspected as a member. Before long Ota's innocence was proven, but the police presumed that there were EAAJAF operatives somewhere in his ideological circle and, as a result of deciding to target the "Revolt Society" and the "Contemporary Thought Society" that Ota was involved with, the members Nodoka Saito and Norio Sasaki floated to the surface. While tailing these two, the other members of the group were deduced one after another. Sasaki joined Soka Gakkai and though he pretended to be an enthusiastic member doing things like giving the lotus sutra every day, he was not able to escape the eyes of the law.
On 19 May 1975 seven key members, Masashi Daidōji and his wife Ayako, Saito, Ekida, Sasaki, Masunaga, and Kurokawa, were arrested as well as a nursing student who was considered a collaborator. Saito committed suicide soon after his arrest, and two members who escaped the roundup, Ugajin and Kirishima, were put on the national wanted list.
Developments since the EAAJAF's demise
On 4 August 1975 the Japanese Red Army took hostages at the US consulate in Kuala Lumpur and the Japanese government gave in to their demands to release Norio Sasaki among others. The trials of the remaining terrorists were started from 25 December 1975, but on 28 September 1977 a team of Japanese Red Army operatives including Sasaki hijacked Japan Airlines Flight 472 and two days later forced the release of Ayako Daidōji and Yukiko Ekida. They both joined the Japanese Red Army. In 1979 Hara Hara Tokei Special Issue #1 was published underground by a group called East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front KF Unit, named after the codenames of two members who committed suicide. It was believed that the book, which reaffirmed the anti-Japanese armed struggle, was created by the still-jailed members because the address of the publisher was the Tokyo Detention House.
Masashi Daidōji and Toshiaki Masunaga were given the death penalty, and Yoshimasa Kurokawa was given life imprisonment with hard labor. In July 1982, Hisaichi Ugajin was arrested and sentenced to 18 years imprisonment with hard labor. On 24 March 1995 Yukiko Ekida was detained while in hiding in Romania on suspicion of forging a private document. She was deported, arrested on the plane to Japan, and at trial was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment with hard labor. She was released on March 23, 2017 after completing her sentence. Today, Norio Sasaki and Ayako Daidōji are still wanted internationally. The statute of limitations on Satoshi Kirishima's crimes has elapsed.
Daidōji died in prison on May 24, 2017 due to complications from multiple myeloma. Masunaga, who is still on death row, is requesting new trials while undertaking a "struggle behind bars" which includes writing revolutionary essays and books from his prison cell. Daidōji also engaged in this "struggle" up until his death.
Perhaps because they were originally classmates, the EAAJAF was known for rejecting the "internal struggle", or "uchi-geba" in Japanese, which were sometimes violent self-criticism sessions popular within Japanese New Left groups to expose those among their members who were not ideologically pure. The United Red Army murdered 14 of its 29 members in less than a year through such sessions. By contrast, there were no bloody purges in the EAAJAF and those members who had family commitments or were unable to mentally endure the struggle were permitted to leave.
The EAAJAF did not have any centralized systems or leadership such as a central committee. The leaders of EAAJAF's three cells were in contact with one another and nothing more. There was no mingling among fellow members and even their ideological positions were different in subtle ways. EAAJAF members also did not disassociate from the public sphere. They adopted the policy of working by day as normal corporate employees or servers at cafes and preparing their operations by night. This policy was also set out in Hara Hara Tokei and the idea was that by not engaging in activism and pretending to be completely upstanding citizens they would not arouse the mistrust of those around them. Because of that, EAAJAF members did not participate in labor movements at their workplaces or social movements in their neighborhoods.
Whereas other groups such as Red Army Faction of the Communist Alliance, a precursor to the Japanese Red Army, raised funds through illegal means including bank robberies, EAAJAF operatives received wages working at regular jobs and secured a legal source of revenue by investing half of their earnings into their operations. Even though the EAAJAF recognized self-funding as a core principle, on the other hand they declined to completely rule out robberies following a full examination of their targets and methods.
As they studied the history of aggression by Japan against Korea and the Ainu, the EAAJAF acquired its personal "anti-Japanese ideology". They considered not only those in power, but also Japanese corporations and laborers as "perpetrators of imperialist aggression" and believed that they were acceptable targets for attack. Hara Hara Tokei refers to the Japanese people with a name of their own creation, Nittei Hongokujin, meaning "people born of Japanese imperialism", and condemns all ordinary citizens who did not support the "anti-Japanese struggle" as active members of the empire. In their claim of responsibility released after the 1974 bombing of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries they justified the indiscriminate terrorist attack by saying "People who were wounded or who died in the bombing are not uninvolved normal citizens. They are colonialists". Because of these dangerous and overly self-righteous ideas, even with the influence of the then New Left the number of people who supported the EAAJAF was few. Even the imprisoned former leader of the EAAJAF "Wolf" cell, Masashi Daidōji, eventually apologized for his tactics.
Since the 1970s, most Japanese New Left organizations had undertaken cautious "situational analyses" and based on those they acted in a planned manner to "start the revolution in Japan" from their own prepared blueprints, even if they didn't always directly confront their own gradual alienation from the Japanese masses. In contrast to this, organizations like the EAAJAF that advocated "anti-Japanese ideology", even if they did have the ambitious goal of "destroying Japan", did not have a concrete plan to achieve it. On the basis of their ideology, the EAAJAF undertook ad hoc terrorist attacks as "payback for the historical sins of Japanese imperialism", and they tended to not pay much heed to whether or not they had popular support, though they did argue that the day laborers of Sanya were true revolutionary warriors.
The EAAJAF divided itself into small terrorist cells symbolically named after animals to represent the nature of their organization and the themes of its ideology:
- The "Wolf" cell likened the oppressed masses who were being tormented by capitalists to the extinct Honshu wolf. Its members were the founder Masashi Daidōji, his wife Ayako Daidōji, as well as Toshiaki Masunaga and Norio Sasaki.
- The "Fangs of the Earth" cell made its goal an ideal world without nation-states or capitalists and likened itself to fangs rising from the Earth to oppose them. Its members were Nodoka Saito and his wife Yukiko Ekida.
- The "Scorpion" cell likened itself to a scorpion that will topple big capital and big buildings with the deadly poison of its own small organization. Its members were Yoshimasa Kurokawa, Hisaichi Ugajin, and Satoshi Kirishima.
In the latter half of the 1970s there was a succession of terrorist bombings seen as having been caused by anti-Japanese ideologues influenced by the EAAJAF or Ryu Ota. There were instances where the terrorist attacks were caused by people who called themselves sympathizers of or successors to the EAAJAF.
Although it was acknowledged that they had no direct relation to the imprisoned EAAJAF members, claims of responsibility in the name of the East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front were put out in a series of terrorist bombings in Hokkaido between 1975 and 1976 including the bombing of a police station on 19 July 1975 that wounded four and the bombing of a government building on 2 March 1976 in which two were killed. Katsuhisa Omori was given the death sentence by the Sapporo District Court for the crimes in 1983, reaffirmed in 1994 and 2007, and is currently on death row, though he proclaims his innocence and admits only to sympathizing with the ideas contained within the claims of responsibility. Another sympathizer is Saburo Kato, who wounded 6 in his bombing of the Association of Shinto Shrines in Tokyo on 27 October 1977.
A case occurred near the end of March 1985 in which threatening letters were placed in several large supermarkets near JNR's Yokohama Station that read "I will blow up this store with plastic explosives. —East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front". In a series of incidents 40 such letters were placed and threatening phone calls were made including demands for money, but on March 30 when police were on the lookout they caught in the act a third-year male middle school student from Midori-ku Yokohama. He said that his motive was to extort money as in the Glico Morinaga case and that he also copied a tactic of the East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front which he learned about at a library.
- Asahi Shimbun 4 September 1974 evening edition
- Asahi Shimbun 31 March 1985 Tokyo evening edition
- Andrews, William Dissenting Japan: A History of Japanese Radicalism and Counterculture, from 1945 to Fukushima. London: Hurst, 2016. ISBN 978-1849045797
- Ryuichi Matsushita『狼煙を見よ 東アジア反日武装戦線“狼”部隊』