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The Sekihōtai (赤報隊?, "Red Vanguard") was a group of Japanese political extremists in the Bakumatsu, the Japanese civil war in the 1860s. The term also refers to a right-wing extremist group that operated in the 1980s.
In February 2009, a group claiming to be Sekihōtai sent threatening messages to a NHK news anchor.
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The Sekihōtai had three units. Sagara Sōzō was the captain of the first unit. The captain of the Sekihōtai's second unit was the former captain of the Shinsengumi's ninth unit, Suzuki Mikisaburō (Itō Kashitarō's younger brother).
The Sekihōtai traveled the countryside spreading news about the upcoming change of regime. The Meiji government had made promises such as tax cuts that could not be kept, so the Sekihōtai were used as a scapegoat, with the government calling them a "false army". While Sagara and members of the first unit were arrested and sentenced to death, Suzuki and the second unit continued to serve the Ishin Shishi (Imperialists). As for the members of third unit, many were executed due to their plundering behavior.
Recently, the name Sekihōtai refers to a 1980s political group of a similarly extreme, though less military, bent. The full name of the group was Nippon Minzoku Dokuritsu Giyugun Betsudo Sekihōtai, which translates roughly as Blood Revenge Division of the People's Partisan Corps Working for the Independence of the Japanese Race. This group was responsible for the death of reporter, Tomohiro Kojiri, when a member fired a shotgun at the Hanshin Bureau of the Asahi Shimbun in Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Prefecture. The group also made several threats against the lives of two prime ministers, Yasuhiro Nakasone and Noboru Takeshita, citing as their cause the changes made to textbooks about World War II. The actions of the Sekihōtai have been listed as evidence of increased violence among Japanese political extremists.
The case was named Metropolitan Designated Case 116. The statute of limitations on the crimes expired in March 2003, but supralegal investigations have been made since.
- In the manga and anime series Rurouni Kenshin, the character Sagara Sanosuke was once a member of the first unit. Although fictional, he is described as being the adopted son of Sagara Sozo.
- (Japanese) Website about 1980s crime