Fusako Shigenobu, who co-founded the terrorist group Japanese Red Army, was released from prison Saturday after serving a 20-year sentence, and apologized for hurting innocent people.
“I feel strongly that I have finally come out alive,” she said, welcomed by her daughter and a crowd of reporters and supporters in Tokyo.
“I have hurt innocent people I did not know by putting our struggles first. Although those were different times, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize deeply,” said Shigenobu, who wore a black hat and gray suit.
Shigenobu was convicted of masterminding the 1974 siege of the French Embassy in the Hague, the Netherlands. She was arrested in 2000 in Osaka in central Japan, where she had been in hiding.
The Japanese Red Army, formed in 1971 and linked with Palestinian militants, took responsibility for several attacks including the takeover of the U.S. Consulate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1975.
The group is also believed to have been behind a 1972 machine-gun and grenade attack on the international airport near Tel Aviv, Israel that killed 28 people, including two terrorists, and injured dozens of people.
Shigenobu was not physically present in the attacks. A year after her arrest, she declared the group dissolved. Japanese media reports said Shigenobu had undergone surgery for cancer during her incarceration.
Kozo Okamoto, who was injured and arrested in the Israeli airport attack, was released in 1985 in a prisoner exchange between Israeli and Palestinian forces. 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