Last May, Tokyo police arrested four Red Army members who allegedly took part in various hijackings, embassy seizures and other crimes after they were deported from Lebanon.
But Lebanon granted political asylum to another member, Kozo Okamoto, for his role in operations against Israel.
Okamoto, who was arrested for the attack on Lod airport and imprisoned in Israel, had been freed in 1985 in an exchange of prisoners between Israeli and Palestinian forces.
Post Cold War Problems
But with the end of the Cold War and moves for peace accelerating in the Middle East, the group’s presence became troublesome for many Arab nations and it was dealt a blow after it reportedly lost its base in Lebanon in 1997.
Shigenobu’s arrest may spell the end of the weakened organization, Japanese media said.
The Japanese Red Army had its roots in another extreme leftist group, the Red Army Faction.
Members of that group were allegedly responsible for hijacking a Japan Airlines (JAL) plane on a domestic flight and forcing it to fly to Pyongyang, North Korea, in March 1970 in what was Japan’s first hijacking.
The suspects were granted political asylum in North Korea and their extradition to Japan has been one of the issues hindering normalization of ties between Tokyo and Pyongyang.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.