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Death row inmate apologizes to victims of 1974 bombing.

TOKYO, Aug. 30 Kyodo

A 51-year-old death row inmate convicted for taking part in the 1974 bombing of a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. building in Tokyo that killed eight people, made a public apology to the victims in May for the first time.

Masashi Daidoji made the apology May 10 as a witness of a trial of a senior Japanese Red Army member, Yukiko Ekita, who was indicted for her involvement in the same series of attacks a quarter century ago.

"Our causing casualties is not something I can justify. I would like to apologize from the bottom of my heart," Daidoji said at a witness stand in a closed-door session at the Tokyo Detention House. "I would like to offer my condolences to the people who died."

Daidoji's words were soft but deliberate. Sitting across the room, Ekita, 48, nodded gently while fixing her eyes on her comrade-at-arms.

The two were among eight leftist militants who were arrested by police in May 1975 for conducting a bombing campaign against Japanese companies between 1974 and 1975 to condemn Japan's military and commercial advance in East Asia before and after World War II.

The attack on the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries head office building in the Marunouchi office district on Aug. 30, 1974, killed eight people and injured 380 others.

Daidoji, who was 26 during the 1974 attack, was one of two suspects sentenced to death among the five who were found guilty. The court ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1987.

Ekita was among five other extremists allowed to leave Japan as part of conditions made by Japanese Red Army members who hijacked a Japan Airlines jetliner with 156 people aboard and diverted it to Dhaka on Sept. 28, 1977.

Detained in March 1995 after trying to enter Romania by air with a forged passport, Ekita was deported back to Tokyo and put back on trial at the Tokyo District Court for the bombing attacks.

Although Daidoji has called the deadly attack against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries "a mistake" in previous court sessions of his own, he made no direct apologies to the victims until the May session.

"Before, he thought it bizarre to apologize at a place of authority like the public trial," Daidoji's lawyer said. "His feelings must have changed in a way that he now thinks an apology is more important."

Daijoji began to testify in Ekita's trial in February. Apart from explaining his background and details about his struggles as an extremist, he also talked about the underlying antigovernment thinking behind his actions.

At his third appearance on the witness stand in March, the gray-haired inmate was told by lawyers that Ekita passed on her apologies to the victims at the first session of her trial after her return to Japan.

"She spoke on my behalf," Daidoji said, seeming pained. "I feel I made her say what I should have said myself."

After that court session, he sent a request to the lawyers saying he wanted to make a clear apology at the next opportunity in May.

"He said in the past he did not want to be forgiven. That it was not a question of being able to find forgiveness," one of his associates said.

In letters to his mother, Daidoji has written from prison that he spends the anniversary of the Aug. 30 attack quietly, praying for the repose of the souls of the dead.

"I realize that he has been overcome by a sense of shame ever since that incident," his mother says.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Sep 6, 1999
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