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Wanted radical Kunio Bando was in Philippines in 2000: sources.

TOKYO, Feb. 27 Kyodo

Kunio Bando, a key member of the Japanese Red Army militant group who is on an international wanted list, may have taken refuge in the Philippines around the summer of 2000, sources familiar with the case said Wednesday.

Bando, 56, is believed to have taken refuge in a banana plantation in Negros, the sources said, adding he left indications behind of having left for China after that.

Bando was captured during a gunbattle between the now-defunct United Red Army group and the Japanese police on Mt. Asama in February 1972. He was later released in an extralegal measure.

According to investigative sources, Bando made contact with Fusako Shigenobu, 57, founder of the Japanese Red Army, several times between 1997 and 1999.

Shigenobu was arrested in Osaka in November 2000 and is on trial for her role in a hostage-taking incident at the French Embassy in The Hague in September 1974 and other charges.

Bando and Shigenobu are believed to have met in Moscow in 1999 to plan rebuilding their organization.

Bando worked in jobs in the apparel industry in Tianjin, China during this period, apparently to raise funds for the Japanese Red Army, according to the investigative sources.

On Feb. 19, 1972, Bando and four other United Red Army members locked themselves in a mountain lodge at the foot of Mt. Asama in Nagano Prefecture and resisted police arrest for 10 days.

Taking a lodge caretaker's wife hostage, the five exchanged fire with riot police, killing two police officers and a civilian and injuring 16 others. The five were finally subdued by the police.

Bando was released from jail in 1975 and left for Libya in an extralegal deal with Japanese Red Army members who seized the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

The United Red Army and the Japanese Red Army were formed in the early 1970s after the student radical group Sekigunha, or Red Army Faction, splintered into several groups.

Bando, who hails from Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, dropped out of Kyoto University and played a role in forming the United Red Army. He later joined the Japanese Red Army.

Bando is on an international wanted list for his involvement in hijacking a Japan Airlines jet in 1977 while the plane was a flight from Paris to Tokyo. The hijackers commandeered the plane over India and forced it to land in Dhaka.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Mar 3, 2003
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