Japanese police warn of increased terror risk
December 19, 2003
TOKYO — Left-wing radical groups may use Japan’s deployment of troops to Iraq as an excuse to continue guerrilla-style attacks on U.S. bases here, according to the National Police Agency’s annual security report.
And “since there are numerous U.S.-affiliated institutions present in our country,” Japan can’t rule out the threat of terror attacks by Islamic extremists, stated the report, which was published Monday.
Self-Defense Forces deployments to Iraq possibly could trigger left-wing “terror/guerilla incidents against government-affiliated, Self-Defense Forces or U.S. Forces facilities,” stated the report, which was provided to Stripes.
Left-wing groups are suspected of launching projectiles toward the Japanese Defense Agency on Feb. 24, Yokota Air Base on March 12 and Atsugi Naval Air Facility on April 3. No injuries were reported in any of the incidents.
In a written response to Stripes’ questions, U.S. Forces Japan stated, “We regularly work with national and local Japanese authorities to review, assess and respond to potential threats to our personnel and installations.
“Following last week’s Japanese government decision to commit Self Defense Forces to the reconstruction of Iraq, Japan announced that it was stepping up security at a number of locations around the country, including power plants, embassies, government buildings and U.S. installations. We value and welcome this support, but will refrain from discussing the details in the interest of maintaining an appropriate level of security.”
The Japanese police agency reported that left-wing groups consider Iraq “an international anti-revolutionary war where imperialist and capitalist countries are continuing to suppress the fight of laborers around the world.”
The agency stated that the ultra-left groups have used Japanese anti-war opinion — mixed with labor action — to expand their organizations. Police arrested 60 activists and detected four Revolutionary Marxist faction hide-outs as part of recent crackdowns, according to the report.
Japan also has been the target of verbal threats by Islamic extremists, according to the report. It stated that messages sent to Arabic language papers in London in November threatened terror attacks against Tokyo.
“There have been a series of terrorist threats against our country,” the report stated. “However, the credibility and background are unclear and require further information-gathering and analysis.”
“There are many people from Islamic countries living in Japan who have created communities centered around mosques. We cannot deny the possibility that they will become hiding places for Islamic extremists,” the report stated.
However, it continued, police don’t know exact locations or movements of Islamic extremists in Japan.
The report concluded that NPA will strengthen and improve its tactics, including cooperation with security authorities to prevent terrorists from entering the country.