It had to happen one day. The so-called Yodogō Group, the Sekigun-ha (Red Army Faction) radicals now living in North Korea since they carried off Japan’s first hijacking in 1970, are now on Twitter.
Well, kind of. They have only limited Internet access at their home in North Korea (not surprisingly, the world’s most insular state is hardly at Web 2.0 levels quite yet), so supporters will be doing the actual tweeting for them, based on the messages they send.
They are tweeting from @yobo_yodo, which means roughly “call Yodo(gō)”.
The tone is clearly meant to be positive and open. The account name is Nandemo ari?! Yodogō no yobo-yodo (No holds barred?! Yodogō’s yobo-dodo) and they encourage people to “ask and say anything” to them via the account. The avatar shows the surviving, greying hijackers and spouses, while the top banner shows an old photograph of several muscular young men (presumably the Yodogō Group many moons ago) posing in swimming trunks with the fish they have apparently caught and are about to eat.
The first tweet was sent on September 19th and says merely “test”. Since then (at time of writing) they have tweeted information about an event and coverage of the Twitter account in the media. Followers are growing by the hundreds as I write this.
To celebrate, a launch event is being held at Loft in Asagaya, of all places, on October 3rd from 7pm. Guest speakers include Masao Adachi, the filmmaker and later Japanese Red Army member, and a relative of Kaoru Hasuike, who was abducted by North Korea.
Many former Japanese New Left radicals are active online today, finding it a way to speak directly to people today without all the layers of misunderstanding that history (and their actions) have created. Several have launched blogs and social media accounts, adding to the masses of information that has been disseminated by factions and individuals over the decades. The Yodogō Group also launched a website earlier this year to promote their case.
The Yodogō Group want to return to Japan and profess their innocence of the charges against them — namely that they assisted the North Korean state in abducting Japanese citizens. With the help of supporters and sympathizers in Japan, they have published texts trying to tell their side of the story and argue that their repatriation is being blocked for political reasons. Currently, if the surviving members returned, they face certain arrest. Can Twitter help their case?