Japan terrorist group founder released after serving time

TOKYO (AP) — Fusako Shigenobu, co-founder of the Japanese Red Army terrorist group, was released from prison on Saturday after serving a 20-year sentence, and apologized for hurting innocent people.

“I feel strongly that I finally made it out alive,” she said, welcomed by her daughter and a crowd of reporters and supporters in Tokyo.

“I’ve hurt innocent people I didn’t know by putting our fight first. Although times were different, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies,” said Shigenobu, who wore a black hat and gray suit.

Shigenobu was convicted of masterminding the siege of the French embassy in The Hague in 1974. She was arrested in 2000 in Osaka in central Japan, where she had been in hiding.

The Japanese Red Army, founded in 1971 and allied with Palestinian militants, took responsibility for several attacks, including the 1975 takeover of the US Consulate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The group is also believed to have been behind a 1972 machine gun and grenade attack on the international airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, which killed 28 people, including two terrorists, and injured dozens of others.

Shigenobu was not physically present at the attacks. A year after her arrest, she declared the group disbanded. According to Japanese media, Shigenobu had surgery for cancer while incarcerated.

Kozo Okamoto, who was injured and arrested in the attack on the Israeli airport, was released in 1985 in a prisoner exchange between Israeli and Palestinian troops. He is reportedly in Lebanon. Okamoto and several other members of the group are still wanted by Japanese authorities.

Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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