The slaughter at Lydda Airport near Tel Aviv on May 30 brought a new dimension to the struggle in the Middle East between Arab and Israeli.
The slaughter at Lydda Airport near Tel Aviv on May 30 brought a new dimension to the struggle in the Middle East between Arab and Israeli. For the three men who fired the guns and threw the grenades which killed 26 people and wounded more than eighty were Japanese -- adherents of a fanatical left-wing radical group calling itself Rengo Sekigun, the United Red Army.
The Japanese were recruited by the Arab guerrilla organisation, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine(FPLP). Two of the attackers died in the airport shooting, leaving Kozo Okamoto to face trial in an Israeli military court.
The shock and dismay of the Western world was matched in Japan by a deep searching of the Japanese national character.
This Visnews special production, compiled from library film, is intended as a profile of Okamoto and his involvement with the Japanese Red Army.
SYNOPSIS: In a few frenzied moments at Lydda airport on May-the-thirtieth, three young Japanese killed 26 people and wounded more than eighty in a suicidal attack with guns and grenades. The massacre achieved its aim. It brutally brought to world notice a small group of radical Japanese activities calling themselves the Rengo Sekigun, or United Red Army. Their fanatical zeal was used as a weapon against Israel by the Arab guerrilla group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Two of the Japanese gunmen died in the airport slaughter. Some of those wounded were still in hospital when the survivor -- Kozo Okamoto aged 24 -- was brought to trial on July 10 before an Israeli military court.
Okamoto sat impassive between Israeli army guards as the charges against him were read out. In his defence, Okamoto described himself as a soldier of world revolution. He said his dead companions would become stars in the sky and he wanted to follow. The rhetoric had the romantic streak of the old Samurai spirit of action and bloodshed, a spirit which several Japanese extremists have used to excuse acts of violence.
Kozo Okamoto belonged to a middle class intellectual family and lived in this house in Kumamoto city -- now an object of awed curiosity. His sixty-two-year-old father, Yasuo Okamoto left his job as a school headmaster when his eldest son, Takeshi, helped to hi-jack an airliner to North Korea in 1970. He told reporters he wanted to commit suicide when he heard that his youngest son had helped to carry-out the Lydda airport massacre.
It was perhaps the hijacking of the Japanese airlines Boeing Seven-Two-Seven at Seoul which prompted Okamoto to emulate his brother. In the incident, members of the United Red Army held one-hundred passengers at sword-point for three days.
The Red Army were in the news again last February when five terrorists fought police for ten days at a mountain resort in Western Japan. Police used tear gas, high-powered hoses....and finally a demolition ball to end the seige.
Two policemen and a civilian were killed in the battle before the terrorists were arrested Even as this fight was going on, another section of the United Red Army was making plans for the attack on Lydda airport. Kozo Okamoto had been introduced to the Red Army by his brother, and flew to the Lebanon to meet him. There he learned the true nature of the mission that was to end with the death of twenty-six people at Lydda terminal.