United Red Army

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  • United Red Army
  • 連合赤軍
MotivesGuerrilla warfare and proletarian revolution
Active region(s)Japan
IdeologyCommunism, New Left
Major actionsrobbery, murder
Notable attacks

The United Red Army (連合赤軍, Rengō Sekigun) was a Japanese terrorist organization, established on 15 July 1971. It united the Marxist–Leninist-Maoist Red Army Faction (赤軍派, Sekigunha), led in 1971 by Tsuneo Mori, and the Reformed Marxist Revolutionary Left Wing group, Japanese Communist Party Kanagawa Prefecture Committee, aka Keihin Anti-Security Treaty Joint Struggle Group (京浜安保共闘, Keihin Anbo Kyoutou) led by Hiroko Nagata. The United Red Army had 29 members and lost 14 by killing them in less than a year. Most were members of the New Left.

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).[1] 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 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.

See also[edit]


Schilling, Mark (20 March 2008), The final days of revolutionary struggle in Japan (News), The Japan Times, retrieved 18 August 2016