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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 02:18 GMT
Japanese Red Army leader jailed
Fusako Shigenobu
Fusako Shigenobu had denied the charges
The woman who co-founded Japan's Red Army guerrilla group has been jailed for 20 years over a 1974 attack on the French embassy in The Hague.

A court in Tokyo convicted Fusako Shigenobu, 60, of kidnapping and attempted murder.

In the Hague attack, the ambassador and 10 other staff were taken hostage in a bid to free militants in France. Two Dutch police officers were wounded.

Shigenobu was arrested in Osaka in 2000, after about 25 years on the run.


The conviction of Fusako Shigenobu closes one of the last chapters on a period of radical left-wing activism in Japan.

It is a period of violence which must seem remote to younger Japanese living in the one of the world's safest and most stable societies, according to the BBC correspondent in Tokyo Jonathan Head.

But in the 1960s and 70s, militant groups were prominent in Japanese political life, and none were more extreme in their tactics than the Japanese Red Army.

Its stated goal was to overthrow the Japanese government and monarchy and help foment world revolution.

It was one of the first groups to be declared a terrorist organisation by the United States.

The group is best known for its suspected involvement in a machine-gun attack on Lod Airport in Israel in 1972, in which more than 20 people died.

Shigenobu has expressed regret for the deaths but defended the attack, which was carried out in co-operation with the militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The group's last-known action was the car bombing of the US military club in Italy in 1988.

The Red Army's ability to function declined in the 1990s as its members - never more than 40 - were arrested or found themselves living in isolation in countries like Syria and North Korea.

Fusako Shigenobu returned to Japan six years ago, apparently frustrated with her life in Lebanon.

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