DNA tests confirm Japanese fugitive’s death after 50 years on the run

A poster of Satoshi Kirishima (foreground) at a train station in Tokyo. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP): DNA analysis has confirmed that a 70-year-old man who confessed on his hospital deathbed last month to being one of Japan's most-wanted fugitives was indeed the suspect, police said Tuesday.

Satoshi Kirishima, a former member of a Japanese radical leftist group behind deadly bomb attacks in the 1970s, was wanted for nearly 50 years, with his bespectacled, smiling mugshots almost omnipresent outside police stations across Japan.

The saga took a sudden twist last month when a terminally ill man hospitalised near Tokyo declared on his deathbed that he was Kirishima -- prompting hospital staff to alert police -- only to die a few days later.

Through subsequent DNA analysis, "the person who died at the hospital on January 29 was confirmed to be Satoshi Kirishima himself", a Tokyo police spokesman told AFP on Tuesday.

With his identity now verified, "we sent five case files (involving him) to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office today", the spokesman said.

In one of those five cases, Kirishima allegedly helped plant a homemade bomb that blasted away parts of a building in Tokyo's upscale Ginza district in April 1975.

While interrogated by police shortly before his death, Kirishima recounted details about his family and the extremist group that only he could have known, according to local media.

A young Kirishima was a member of the East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front, which in the 1970s orchestrated a series of fatal bomb attacks on corporate behemoths, including one at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries that killed eight people.

"I want to meet my death with my real name," he reportedly told staff at the hospital before his death. - AFP

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