Japanese Seek Extradition of Terrorist From Thai Gov’t

The Japanese government reportedly has asked Thailand to extradite a former Japanese Red Army terrorist arrested in Cam­bo­dia three years ago for forgery and acquitted by a Thai court in June.

Yoshimi Tanaka, 51, who has been wanted for nearly 30 years for his role in the hijacking of a Japan Airlines domestic jet to North Korea in 1970, now faces extradition hearings in a Thai court, Kyodo News reported.

Tanaka was arrested at a Cam­bodian checkpoint near the Viet­nam border in March 1996 for allegedly passing counterfeit $100 bills in Pattaya, a resort town in eastern Thailand. He had been chased to the border by Cambodian and US auth­or­ities and arrested only after spending several days holed up in a North Korean diplomatic vehicle.

Tanaka had lived in Phnom Penh as a businessman for at least two years, beginning in 1994, staying at the Pailin Hotel and in a wooden house near the Royal Phnom Penh Hotel, police said at the time of his arrest.

But Tanaka was acquitted on June 23 after more than three years in prison and then arrested again on Aug 19 to face the extradition hearings, according to the report. The Japanese government made the extradition re­quest in April, Kyodo reported.

Hearings had been scheduled to begin this week. But Thai prosecutors said it would take at least one more month for the case to be ready, noting that court orders are still needed for several witnesses, according to the report.

Tanaka wants to return to Ja­pan of his own will to face the hi­jacking charges, he was quoted as saying in the report.

Tanaka was one of the nine-member group that hijacked a plane from Tokyo to Pyongyang to protest the US military presence in Japan and the signal the start of the guerrilla group’s campaign of international terrorism. Tanaka admitted to the Thai court that he had been involved in the 1970 hijacking.

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