The same group that claimed responsibility for a 2002 blast near Camp Zama said it also was responsible for the explosions reported near the base last week, local Japanese police said.
A group calling itself the “Revolutionary Army” sent letters to several Japanese media outlets in Tokyo on Saturday claiming responsibility for an incident in which a projectile was found on the base, Zama city police official said. The police believe the group is connected to Kakuryokyo, a leftist extremist group, he said.
In the letter, the group said it is opposed to relocating the Army’s new headquarters to Camp Zama, which was agreed upon last year by the United States and Japan as part of an overall plan to realign U.S. military forces in Japan, the official said. He said the group also wants to stop Vice President Dick Cheney’s visit to Japan this week.
Maj. Martha Brooks, a U.S. Army Japan spokeswoman, said she hadn’t heard about the group’s claim.
“It’s no secret there are dissident groups in Japan who are unhappy with the presence of U.S. military forces being stationed here,” she said Saturday night. “While we respect the right to disagree, we’d hope they’d use the democratic process to express their views rather than engaging in behavior that’s not only illegal but risky to themselves and possibly members of our community.”
Two metal pipes were found at a park less than a kilometer southeast of Camp Zama last Monday night. On Thursday, local police found a 14-inch long projectile they’ve said they believe was launched from the pipes. No injuries or damages were reported.
Similar metal pipes were discovered at the same park in November 2002, when two projectiles were found, including one on the roof of a home outside the base.
Mortar devices also were found near Yokota in March 2003 but no damage was reported. The following month, the Mainichi Shimbun reported it received a statement from a group claiming responsibility for an April 3 attack on Atsugi.
Police raided locations linked to a political leftist group called “Kakurokyo” in 2004 that reportedly said it was responsible for each of the base attacks but no arrests have been made.
Experts have said radical organizations use such tactics not to mount a serious terrorist attack but to send a political message; the experts have said the incidents rarely result in injuries or significant damage