TOKYO (TR) – Takaya Shiomi, the former chairman of a communist militant group responsible for Japan’s most infamous hijacking, has died in Tokyo, sources close to the former leader have revealed, reports NHK (Nov. 15).
According to the sources, Shiomi, a native of Hiroshima Prefecture, died due to heart failure at a hospital on Tuesday after he was found collapsed at his residence by family members that night. He was 76.
Shiomi founded the Red Army Faction after entering Kyoto University in 1969. Spurred by communist ideals, the faction sought revolution. After numerous arrests of its members, including Shioimi, the faction merged with a Maoist group to form the Japanese Red Army in 1971.
In 1970, Shiomi plotted the hijacking of a Japan Airlines flight by members of the faction, the most infamous incident of its kind in Japan’s aviation history.
Armed with swords and a bomb, the members forced Flight 351, carrying 129 people, to fly from Tokyo to Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Before a stop in South Korea to release the passengers, the plane was then directed to Pyongyang, North Korea, where it was abandoned and the crew released.
Shiomi later served 18 years in prison for planning the hijacking. He was also accused of plotting an attack of the office of the prime minister.
Shiomi was released from prison in 1989. In 2015, he ran for city council in Tokyo’s Kiyose City but was unsuccessful.