Man Who Claimed to Be Bombing Suspect Satoshi Kirishima Lived in Plain Sight for decades

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The hospital where a man claiming to be Satoshi Kirishima died.

A now deceased man who claimed to be Satoshi Kirishima, a suspect in a string of bombings perpetrated in the 1970’s, managed to blend in to society for decades under a false name. Kirishima, 70, was a member of the extreme left-wing group East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front and was wanted by the police.

A family member of one of the bombing victims expressed his sense of deep regret that Kirishima had been found “too late.”

A gray-haired man

“He used to sway to the rock music playing in the bar,” recalled the owner of a bar near JR Fujisawa Station in Kanagawa Prefecture. The owner in his 60s vividly remembered the gray-haired man who claimed he was “Hiroshi Uchida.” He used to come to the bar about once a month until a few years ago.

The man began coming to the bar two decades back. He would drop by after going to the public bath, and would listen to the bands that played while he had a beer, moving his body to the rhythm in good spirits. The other regulars at the bar called him “Ucchi.”

Though the man told the bar owner that he worked in construction and civil engineering, he generally did not talk much about himself. However, he did once say, “I am not the type of the person who can make someone happy.”

The bar owner remembered once visiting the man’s home and the man even giving him a music video. “I would be surprised if the man was really Kirishima,” he said.

The man worked as a live-in employee for a construction company in Fujisawa for a few decades, but he was hospitalized this month in Kamakura for terminal stomach cancer.

Known by his neighbors as “Mr. Uchida,” he used to greet them as he left from or came back to the company.

“Never let people know your true identity. Do not fall into extreme secrecy. Greetings with neighbors are essential.” This is how members of the East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front were supposed to conduct themselves, according to the group’s manual.

“ If he was really Kirishima, he was probably pretending to be an ordinary person,” an investigative source said.

An ordinary student

Kirishima was originally from Hiroshima Prefecture. After graduating from a high school in Onomichi in the prefecture, he moved to Tokyo to attend Meiji Gakuin University. While a student at the school, he was placed on a wanted list by the police on suspicion of violating the Explosives Control Law for detonating a homemade bomb at a building in Tokyo’s Ginza district in April 1975.

According to a high school classmate, he was short and unassuming, an ordinary student who would work up a sweat with his classmates at sports festivals.

“I didn’t think he would be involved in such a serious case,” said a 70-year-old man in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture. “If the man who died was Kirishima, I would’ve wanted to know where he had been and what he had been doing.”

From the National Police Agency’s website
Satoshi Kirishima

Hope for new insights

“He was found too late,” said a man who was a family member of one of the bombing victims. He lost his younger sister, then 23, on Aug. 30, 1974, in one of the radical group’s bombings of companies. She was walking in Tokyo’s Marunouchi district near her office when the bomb went off. The blast killed 8 people and injured 380.

The East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front continued to carry out bombings over the next nine months until May 1975.

“I still can’t understand their [the extremist group’s] ideology,” said the man, 77.

Although Kirishima was not wanted by the police for the bombing in the Marunouchi district that killed his sister, the man said he hopes the police can “shed some light on the bombings with the words and traces left behind by the man.”