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Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Red Army signs off
Red Army leader Fusako Shigenobu
Shigenobu was arrested in November last year
The Japanese Red Army guerrilla group is to disband and reinvent itself 30 years after it was formed, reports say.

The organisation's founder, Fusako Shigenobu, ordered the dissolution and has said that the group would pursue its cause legally.

"This will be the last statement from the Japanese Red Army," Shigenobu is quoted as saying in a statement faxed from jail.

Shigenobu was arrested last November and faces charges in connection with the seizure of the French embassy in the Netherlands in 1974.

The Red Army's move is being linked to the arrest of many of its members in the past few years as well as a shrinking support base.


We have suffered many crucial setbacks

Red Army leader Fusako Shigenobu
"It is something we had been considering since the arrest of our five comrades in Beirut [in 1997]," Shigenobu said.

"We have suffered many crucial setbacks," the Kyodo news agency quoted her as saying.

"We will play a part in the activities to change Japan in a different form. We will promote ourselves under a different name next year."

Feared group

The Japanese Red Army was once one of the most feared guerrilla groups in the world, responsible for a series of hijackings and hostage-takings.

It carried out an attack on an Israeli airport in 1972 in which 24 people were killed, as well as the seizure of the French ambassador to the Netherlands two years later.

But in recent years it has been considerably less active, after its high-profile attacks in the 70s and 80s.

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See also:

15 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Hijacker admits guilt after 30 years
30 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japanese Red Army leader charged
08 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Red Army's reign of terror
28 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Red Army hijack suspect returns
18 Mar 00 | Middle East
Red Army guerrillas arrested
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