National Police Agency Welcomes New Commissioner General Amidst Speculation Over Kiryu Toshi’s Confession | FRIDAY DIGITAL

National Police Agency Welcomes New Commissioner General Amidst Speculation Over Kiryu Toshi’s Confession

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The suspect Kirishima came forward himself at the end. What was his aim?

In January 2024, a man claiming to be Satoshi Kirishima, a former member of the “East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front,” which caused a series of corporate bombing incidents that shook society in the 1970s, died at a hospital in Kanagawa Prefecture. While he had been wanted nationwide on suspicion of violating the Explosives Control Act, he continued to evade capture. He was suffering from terminal stomach cancer, and when he identified himself as Satoshi Kirishima, he was already in critical condition. With his death, the path to fully unraveling the events of his nearly 49 years of evasion was closed. Veteran officials from the Public Security Police, who have been investigating incidents involving extremist leftist groups for many years, believe that his self-identification was akin to a declaration of victory.

The East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front advocated anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism and was formed in 1973 by former death row inmate Masashi Daigoji, who died of illness in 2017. They targeted companies expanding overseas, engaging in colonial activities, and conducted numerous bombings. In the 1974 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Building bombing incident, eight people died, and approximately 380 others were injured, and a total of 12 bombing incidents, including those targeting Mitsui & Co. and Obayashi Corporation, occurred one after another.

The East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front, which carried out such attacks, consisted of three groups: “Wolves,” “Fangs of the Earth,” and “Scorpions,” with Kirishima being a member of the Scorpions. The naming of the Scorpions group symbolized the idea of using poison to defeat giant corporations despite their small size. Incidentally, the Wolves referred to the Japanese wolf, which was driven to extinction by the development of capitalism by giant corporations, and the Fangs of the Earth referred to the idea of fighting with fangs to prevent the earth, which is the people’s foundation, from being taken away by the state or giant corporations.

Every November, police headquarters nationwide designate it as “Wanted Suspects Investigation Enhancement Month” and intensify their efforts to track down and arrest wanted suspects, including Kirishima. However, it is a well-known fact that merely designating a month for such efforts does not guarantee the collection of significant information, and the actual results have not been satisfactory.

“We visit accommodation facilities such as hotels and inns during the month, seeking cooperation regarding the presence of suspicious individuals among the guests. Additionally, we make efforts to locate wanted suspects by visiting companies that employ live-in staff and real estate agencies that mediate apartments and condominiums. However, substantial information is often difficult to come by.”

The suspect Kishima evaded capture for about 49 years since being wanted in May 1975. For over 40 years of his fugitive life, he successfully avoided the surveillance net by using the alias “Uchida Hiroshi” and working as a live-in employee at a civil engineering company in Fujisawa City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Although the company where Kishima was hiding employed live-in staff, which should have been marked by the police, he could not be found.

Another senior official from the Public Security Police commented, “It has been reported that Kishima mentioned ‘wanting to die as Kishima’ due to his terminal cancer. While some interpret this as a display of humanity at the end, others see it as a declaration of victory against the nationwide police force.”

“For nearly half a century, he continued to evade capture, and finally revealed his real name. The police were astonished and thrown into confusion. Even if they wanted to arrest him, doctors would not permit it due to his terminal cancer. Moreover, even if he confessed, saying ‘I am Kishima,’ there’s no way to know if he truly is the person. It could be a hoax confession. Without being able to identify the individual, they cannot make an arrest. The confusion continues unabated. It could be interpreted as harassment against the police. Since they couldn’t arrest him, it’s undoubtedly a defeat for the police.”


Another senior official from the Public Security Police pointed out a somewhat fateful timing related to the change in the National Police Agency Commissioner-General.

“Kishima was hospitalized in mid-January. He confessed to being Kishima on January 25th. The next day, the 26th, was the day when the Commissioner-General of the National Police Agency changed. The new Commissioner-General, who had just taken office, found himself immediately dealing with the Kishima case.”

Yoshimi Ogata, who was the Deputy Chief of the National Police Agency, assumed the position of the 99th National Police Agency Commissioner-General effective on the 26th. This appointment was approved in a cabinet meeting on January 23rd and reported on the same day.


Kirishima was hospitalized in mid-January. It was on January 25 that he confessed that he was Kirishima. The next day, January 26, was the day of the change of police commissioner, and the new commissioner was forced to take measures against Kirishima as soon as he arrived at his post.

Sadami Ogata, then deputy commissioner of the National Police Agency, became the 99th police commissioner on January 26. This appointment was approved at a Cabinet meeting on January 23, and was reported on the same day.

Kirishima knew about the appointment, and it would be cynical to interpret it as a personal insult. I don’t know if he had that much thought in his serious illness. However, whether he intended to or not, Kirishima’s confession was reported in a TV bulletin on the 26th, and was generally reported in newspapers and on TV from then on. Critics asked, ‘What were the police doing?’ ‘ It’s certainly something of a cause-and-effect thing.”

Another police official at a police station in Fujisawa City, Kanagawa Prefecture, which covers the location of a civil engineering company, said, “There will probably be no punishment, but the National Police Agency will ask about the situation up to now, and there will probably be a stern warning.

In some cases, such as the case of Kirishima, the suspect continues to run away for a long period of time even though he is wanted, but sometimes he is arrested based on a tip from a member of the public. On the first of this month, Shigeki Kanazawa, an executive of the Kizuna-kai, a designated crime syndicate, who was also wanted for attempted murder, was arrested after three years on the run. He was identified by a report of a “similar man” in Sendai City.

Posters of the wanted suspect Kirishima have been put up in supermarkets, train stations, and other places throughout the country where they can be seen by an unspecified number of people. Currently, police nationwide are receiving many inquiries asking if they can remove Kirishima’s posters. In the midst of a stream of inquiries, a DNA typing test with relatives revealed that the deceased man was consistent with being the suspect Kirishima. The police authorities will now send the suspect to prosecutors as deceased, and the prosecutors will decide not to prosecute the case. The posters of Kirishima that were put up all over the country will soon be gone in what will soon be half a century. (Honorifics omitted in the text)

  • Interview and text by Masahiro Ojima Masahiro Ojima

    Nonfiction writer. After working for the Sankei Shimbun in the National Police Agency Press Club, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Department, the Judicial Press Club, and the National Tax Agency Press Club, he went freelance. His recent book is "How We Live: Money, Women, and Quitting Time of the Modern Yakuza" (Kodansha + Alpha Shinsho).

  • PHOTO Shinji Hasuo

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