Fusako Shigenobu Statement on Making a Fresh Start

Morning of May 28, 2022

Today, on May 28, I have completed my 20-year prison sentence. I will now return to society and make a fresh start. As I have received several interview requests, I would like to reply to them, in the form of a few words of greeting, as simple as they are.

As I am about to renew my participation in society, I would first of all like to apologize to those who have been harmed and inconvenienced by my arrest. Although I have already stated this before and it involves events that took place half a century ago, I would like to once again take this occasion to apologize for unintentionally harming and inconveniencing those who were not directly involved in the political, military struggle of the Japanese Red Army.

We continued our struggle during the 1970s, willing to use any means necessary to achieve “justice” and “cause” of the revolution. We were unaware of the harm we were doing to innocent people by putting ourselves first in such a way of struggling. The Japanese Red Army, whose struggle was characterized by military tactics and internationalism, was dissolved in 2001.

As I reflect on my past, I am determined to make a fresh start today, feeling both sorry for what I have done and a desire to change Japanese society for the better.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express, along with my apology, my gratitude.

 I would like to express my gratitude and solidarity to my friends in Palestine, abroad, and in Japan, who have supported me, throughout my long imprisonment, with unflagging warm friendship and as witnesses in my trial.

I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Kyoko Otani and other lawyers who have encouraged and walked with me while I was in prison, from my arrest through the trial to now, and to those who have engaged in relief activities supporting me.

 I want to also thank those who were involved in my cancer treatment while I was in prison, the attending physicians, nurses, prison staff, and others at Osaka Medical Prison, Hachioji Medical Prison, and Higashi Nihon Adult Corrections Medical Center who saved my life by removing nine cancers through four abdominal surgeries.

 I left Japan on February 28, 1971, at the age of 25, and have lived abroad for nearly 30 years. After that, I have spent 21 years and almost 7 months in prison.

 It may be presumptuous of me to say so, but I am grateful that, despite my mistakes, I have been able to live up to my desire to change the world for the better, a deeply held desire since my childhood.

 More than half a century ago, there was a time when both the world and Japan were in a state of exuberance, opposing war and demanding peace.

I was moved by Che Guevara’s words opposing the Vietnam War and calling for the struggle of solidarity, “Two, three, and more Vietnams! That is the watchword!” and also went out of my way to participate in the protest against raising university tuition.

 Facing the impasse of the movement in its offense and defense, I joined the Red Army Faction of the Communist League in order to seek a way out through armed struggle. The Red Army Faction fought, failed repeatedly, and could not fight successfully in the face of repression. Our “armed struggle line” was wrong. But we did not think so at that time. Given that armed struggle was our organizational axis, rather than questioning that line, we tried to overcome our setbacks with “determination” to resolve the problem by keep fighting. I was one of the people who believed this. And, in order to fight better, I practiced solidarity with the oppressed people of the world and, in order to change both the world and Japan for the better, I firmly adhered to the line of armed struggle and joined the Palestinian liberation struggle as a volunteer.

 Since then, I have encountered and learned from people in the Palestinian liberation struggle as well as people seeking revolution in various countries in solidarity with the Palestinian movement, and, as I lived my life, I have realized many things. I have learned that the source of the struggle for liberation does not only come from armed struggle but also from the Palestinian people’s peaceful, non-military struggle for survival, in the way they value life and help each other. What I had learned from the actual site of armed struggle was its opposite, namely that, when I was active in Japan, I made the mistake of not learning about people’s social life and not struggling in a such a way that connected with them. I have written about my own experiences and lessons I have learned within the limits of what I could say and it will take too long to explain so I will only give a brief, abbreviated account here. As for interview requests, I will consider having the opportunity to sincerely respond to them, within the limits of what I can speak.

During more than 20 years I have spent in prison, the world has changed dramatically. I think the “9/11 incident” that occurred in the U.S. in 2001 was especially decisive in determining where we are today. The Bush administration at that time, instead of choosing the path of resolving the “9/11 incident” by bringing its crime to justice through legal means, chose a paradigm of war and violence in the name of an “anti-terrorist” war. In Iraq, where I lived, and throughout the rest of the Middle East, the U.S. military has killed and tortured civilians, created refugees, and, to this day, the harm caused by the U.S. military affect hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people, but the U.S. war crimes are not brought to justice, while their victims find themselves unable to escape from pain and destitution.

We have turned the 21st century into a century of warfare and refugees. One consequence of this paradigm seems to be the Russian military aggression against Ukraine and the intensification of the regional war through NATO’s supply of arms, while leaving the Ukrainian people victimized.

In addition, over the past 20-odd years, as global capitalism has thrown human beings and nature into the market, producing environmental destruction and extreme inequality. I don’t think the coronavirus pandemic is unrelated to this.

I have yet to experience IT and AI, as well as the “new normal” of society under the coronavirus. On top of that, prior to my release from prison, a troublesome polyp was found during my endoscopy, and I am again required to be treated by a specialist after my release. Although I am eager to return to society and, as a citizen, contribute in my small way, with the the lessons of the past in my mind, in terms of ability or physical strength, there is nothing I can really do.

What I would like to first do is to learn about the reality of the world and Japan and accustom myself to the “new normal”, as I devote myself to medical treatment and rehabilitation. Then, if such requests arise, I will respond to them, fulling my role as a witness of my own times in sharing my reflections and summation.

The above statement is for those who have requested interviews, as way of greeting them and expressing my state of mind upon release from prison.

Questions from the Press (May 28, 2022)

New Year Message

We have received a number of questions from various media outlets, both directly and through Attorney Otani. We will leave some of the common questions to Attorney Otani to answer.

I have received other questions  “concerning the Lydda struggle” and “concerning Ukraine,” but I cannot answer them here. For those who are interested, I would appreciate if you could read my book Record of Warriors: Living in Palestine (Gentosha), which has just been published and which touches on these issues.

I have received many more questions, but that is all.

Please excuse my rambling and poor writing.

May 28, 2022

Fusako Shigenobu

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