Revolutionary Army claims responsibility for Camp Zama mortar attack, police point finger at Kakurōkyō faction

A small mortar attack was launched at Camp Zama, an US army base in Kanagawa Prefecture, in the early hours of April 28th. A group calling itself the Revolutionary Army has now claimed responsibility for the incident with a declaration that reached press outlets by May 4th.

Two iron pipes were found planted in the ground around 800 metres from the base and aimed at Camp Zama. These were likely used to launch the small projectiles that locals reported hearing explode. The timing of the attack was surely meant as a protest at the prime minister’s much-publicised visit to the United States.

The police are now said to believe the Revolutionary Army to be none other than the non-mainstream faction of Kakurōkyō. This is one of the splinter Kakurōkyō groups that emerged when the New Left faction began to disintegrate in the 1980’s.

camp zama us american military base japan mortar attack kakurokyo kimoto-ha radical left revolutionary army

Shaseidō was a youth activism group originally under the umbrella of the Japan Socialist Party but it was eventually taken over by its radical elements. It then reformed as Kaihō-ha (Liberation Faction) in the later 1960’s and joined the New Left fray during the height of the anti-war and anti-Anpo movement in Japan. Kakumeiteki Rōdōsha Kyōkai (Kakurōkyō) (Revolutionary Workers) was the name of its labour wing (like all New Left groups it had separate student and labour wings). Based at Meiji University, Kaihō-ha/Kakurōkyō was an instrumental group in the Sanrizuka struggle and Buraku activism.

However, in 1981 Kaihō-ha/Kakurōkyō split into the Takiguchi-ha and Hazama-ha factions. The latter, also known as the Gendaisha-ha, became the “mainstream” faction. This then split once again, more violently this time, in the late 1990’s, leading to several deaths.

The “non-mainstream” faction that broke away is known as the Kimoto-ha or Sekisaisha-ha, and allegedly launched many small mortar attacks at US bases in the 2000’s with similar style to the recent wave of attacks, including Camp Zama. This faction is arguably the only New Left faction still pursuing militant tactics.

Another “rocket” (mortar) attack on an apartment building in Kawaguchi City was claimed by the Revolutionary Army in October 2014. The attack was aimed at a construction company involved with the controversial Henko base relocation in Okinawa. However, the nature of the attack led many to lay it quickly at the doorstep of Kakurōkyō Kimoto-ha.

Starting on May Day and continuing through Constitution Memorial Day, the last few days have witnessed tens of thousands rally around Japan to demonstrate peacefully for labour rights and assert their support for Japan’s pacifist Constitution which the current Abe government is attempting to revise. However, the Camp Zama incident also comes shortly after a drone carrying radioactive sand from Fukushima was landed on the roof of the Prime Minister’s official resident as a protest against the restarting of nuclear power facilities in Japan.

Hat tip to the ever-reliable @Thoton for the speedy share.

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