Japanese police believe that terrorist action by the extremist Japanese Red Army (JRA) during the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul is likely. ``Looking at the evidence,'' an official of the National Police Agency said, ``we are now moving on the premise that the Japanese Red Army may take action.'' Although the official made clear that there is no specific information regarding Red Army plans, he said the NPA believes ``the possibility that the Red Army may act is larger than the possibility they will not.''
The official said the police agency has no information to support recent reports that JRA terrorist teams may already have entered South Korea. He suggested that instead the JRA might attempt to hit an Olympics-related target in another country, including Japan.
The cautious assessment of the Japanese police is based on intelligence about Red Army plans gathered over the past year. During that period four members of the international terror group have been arrested - two in Japan, one in the Philippines, and one in the United States. The members came from two different factions of the tiny but active underground group - one based in Lebanon and allied with Palestinian extremist organizations, and another, smaller group, of airline hijackers based in North Korea.
The information shows that the shadowy JRA, after a long period of dormancy, has been operating on a global basis, increasingly focused on East Asia. Japanese police say they have evidence of widespread movement in and out of Japan by JRA members, using doctored passports, and that the Philippines has also been a JRA base in the past several years. Documents in the possession of captured JRA terrorists have pointed to the Seoul Games as a target and JRA public propaganda has echoed North Korea's opposition to the Games. But Japanese police say the stepped-up security in Seoul may cause the group to pick other targets, including attacks on the embassies of South Korea, Japan, or the US in another Asian country. In the 1970s the Red Army resorted to taking hostages, usually Japanese embassy officials, to gain the release of imprisoned comrades. ``But they may not repeat the same actions,'' the police official warned. ``Maybe this time they may kidnap a VIP from a foreign country.''
On Friday, Japanese police authorities revealed evidence that the JRA masterminded the kidnapping of a Japanese businessman in Manila in late 1986, a crime previously believed to be the work of Filipinos. The giant Mitsui trading company reportedly paid a ransom of up to $3 million for the release of their Manila manager.
Beside disrupting the Olympics, Japanese police say, the prime objective of JRA action in coming weeks would be to free captured comrades, particularly Osamu Maruoka, the No. 2 leader of the Lebanon faction arrested in Tokyo last November.