Japanese Red Army Hijackers Willing to Return to Tokyo to Face Trial

(UPDATE 2: 1/12/2009) Last of the children of the Japanese Red Army will return to Japan:

The 14-year-old son of one of the Japanese men who hijacked a Japan Airlines airplane and defected to North Korea in 1970 will travel to Japan next week, the last of the children of the hijackers to move to Japan from the country. A supporter of the hijackers’ family members left for Pyongyang on Saturday, where he will meet with the boy and accompany him to Japan via Beijing on Tuesday.

The boy is the son of Moriaki Wakabayashi, 61, who is on the international wanted list for hijacking the plane. The supporter left the Chinese capital after obtaining a special traveling permit from the Japanese Embassy for the boy, who was born in North Korea and does not have a Japanese passport. Family members of the nine hijackers began returning to Japan in 2001. Those remaining in North Korea will be the four of the nine hijackers still living in the country and two wives who are on the international wanted list for their alleged involvement in the kidnapping of Japanese nationals for North Korea. (Japan Today, 1/10/2009)

(UPDATE: 5 days after NKeconWatch posts the press release)

From the Japan Times (h/t OneFreeKorea)

Asked in a telephone conversation whether the hijackers called for help from the European Parliament, Ford said, “The only help they seemed to want was to publicize their offer.”

Ford said the meeting was set up by his North Korean hosts when discussing barriers to the removal of North Korea from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

He said he has informed the Japanese government of his meeting with the hijackers.

“This is an opportunity that I hope the Japanese government will take to move closer to normalize relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang,” Ford said.

Of the nine hijackers who sought asylum in the North, three have died and two who later returned to Japan were convicted.

Read the full article here:
EU lawmaker meets North fugitives
Japan Times
4/15/2008

Press Release:

redarmy2.JPG

 

Monday 7 April 2008

Glyn Ford (Labour MEP for South West England), met in Pyongyang with Moriaki Wakabayashi and Takahiro Konishi two of the four remaining Japanese hijackers in North Korea. Moriaki Wakabayashi and Takahiro Konishi, who hijacked Japan Airlines Yodo Flight 351 from Tokyo to Fukuoka in 1970 declared that they are willing to return to Japan to face trial. 

Following the meeting with the hijackers, Glyn Ford MEP, said: “All four hijackers are now willing to return to Japan.  This offer is only conditional on the dropping of arrest warrants against three of them for possible complicity in the abductions of Japanese citizens to North Korea in the 1980s. Their return would mean that the last remaining obstacle to the US removing its terrorist state designation of North Korea would have been removed consequently allowing progress to be made towards a final settlement of the current nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula.”

He continued “This is an opportunity that I hope the Japanese government will take to move closer to normalise relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang. If US Army deserter and defector Robert Jenkins can return to Japan after only serving a token 30 days in jail I see no reason why the Japanese government should refuse to accept an offer that might well lead to the four remaining hijackers, all now in their late 50s and 60s, facing up to 12 years in prison.”

In January Glyn’s book North Korea on the Brink: Struggle for Survival was published by Pluto Press. It will be published in Tokyo in June by Daiichihoki and in Korea by Humanitas.

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