Nagata, ex-United Red Army activist on death row, dies

Ex-leader of brutal Japan far-left group dies: reports

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Hiroko Nagata, a death row inmate who was formerly with the now-defunct United Red Army and involved in the mass murder of her comrades in the early 1970s, died at the Tokyo Detention House at the age of 65 Saturday evening following a long battle with brain cancer, several sources close to her said Sunday.

Nagata underwent surgery on a brain tumor in 1984. In 2006, she collapsed at the detention facility, suffering from brain atrophy and impaired consciousness, and was transferred to a medical prison in Tokyo’s Hachioji.

Although she returned to the detention house in 2007, she had been bedridden in recent years.

According to court findings, Nagata conspired with other members of the radical group in the August 1971 murders of two members who tried to leave. She was also involved in the mass killing of 12 more members in a mountainous area of Gunma prefecture between December 1971 and February 1972 over ideological differences.

Nagata was arrested in February 1972, and was sentenced to death by the Tokyo District and High courts. The lower court sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1993.

After her arrest, five members of the group, including Hiroshi Sakaguchi, 64, barricaded themselves into the Asama Lodge in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, taking the wife of the lodge manager hostage. The ensuing gun battles with police, in which three officers were killed, were played out in front of television cameras over the following 10 days.

The death sentence on Sakaguchi was finalized in 1993, while Tsuneo Mori, who led the group, committed suicide at the Tokyo Detention House in 1973 at the age of 28.

(Mainichi Japan) February 6, 2011

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