Attacks on palace, US Embassy in Japan seen as effort to disrupt summit
The attacks by Japanese radicals on the United States Embassy and Imperial Palace yesterday were the opening salvos of a campaign to disrupt the forthcoming Tokyo summit, Japanese police said. The summit of seven Western heads of state and Japan's celebration of the 60th anniversary of Emperor Hirohito's reign will happen within a week of each other, in late April and early May.
There were no injuries, nor was any serious damage done, after the three rocket-launched, homemade incendiary devices hit the two targets. But the fact that the extremists successfully carried out the unprecedented attack on the embassy in broad daylight from busy Tokyo streets is expected to heighten already intense security preparations for the summit. Some 30,000 police officers are to be mobilized to protect the leaders who will attend the summit.
Several radical left-wing groups had vowed to disrupt both the summit and the imperial celebration. ``They must be encouraged by today's action,'' a police official admitted. ``It's easier than they thought to do this kind of thing.''
A small radical left-wing group called the Senki (``Fighting Flag'') was responsible for yesterday's attack, police sources believe. The group launched similar devices at a police dormitory at Narita airport last November.
But police are most concerned about the extremist Chukaku-ha (``Core Faction''), whose underground ``revolutionary army'' of about 100 to 150 members sabotaged the Tokyo commuter-rail system last November. In an interview conducted several weeks ago in the group's fortified headquarters here, Chukaku-ha leader Matsuo Makoto said the group was ``thinking in terms of the 60th anniversary and the Tokyo summit as one package. We think we will have to stage some armed struggles.''
Compared to the devices used yesterday, the Chukaku-ha has built more sophisticated rockets for previous attacks on Narita airport and other targets of radical protest.
The homemade rockets were launched at the modern high-rise US Embassy complex from the open trunk of a stolen car parked only 100 yards away. The radicals, police sources say, used a time-delay explosive to send the crude rockets out of metal pipes. The rockets consisted of gasoline-filled incendiary bombs mounted on wooden sticks. Some of the devices failed to explode, and those that did were quickly extinguished inside the embassy compound and the palace grounds.
The US Embassy has never been a target of rockets before. The last radical attack on the embassy, police say, was made with a Molotov cocktail 12 years ago.