A self-professed rightist and sword dealer arrested Dec. 19 in connection with a string of shootings told police he felt enraged after watching TV footage of Japanese abductees returning from North Korea.
``I couldn't let North Korea get away with it,'' said Ichiro Murakami, 54.
The five abductees returned to Japan on Oct. 15, 2002.
Murakami told investigators he tried singlehandedly to torch an office of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun) in Fukui Prefecture on the night of Oct. 23, 2002.
Soon after, media outlets received anonymous calls saying a ``Japanese national with a heart had acted out of anger.''
Murakami told police he felt ``great anger toward Pyongyang'' for the abductions.
``It was around this time that I began to dream of a secret underground group that would execute my ideas,'' police quoted Murakami as saying.
The head of a group of Japanese sword aficionados, Murakami is suspected of shooting attacks on Aum Shinrikyo facilities in Tokyo and Osaka as well as a teacher's union in Hiroshima.
Police are investigating 23 incidents they believe were orchestrated by Murakami or his sword-loving cohorts. They include mailing threatening letters with bullets to Chongryun in Tokyo in November 2002.
Since then, facilities with ties to North Korea have been victimized on six more occasions.
In calls to the media, the group members referred to themselves as Kenkoku Giyugun (nation-building volunteer corps) and Kokuzoku Seibatsutai (troops to conquer traitors to Japan).
Investigators said that from late 2002 until early this year the club had promoted members who later were arrested in connection with attacks.
Eiji Shikano, 48, arrested following a shooting at an Aum Shinrikyo facility in Tokyo, wrote in the April 2003 Token Tomonokai newsletter: ``I was feeling a bit unsatisfied with the goings on, when I was asked to become a board member. It felt like a godsend.''
Police suspect Murakami sent out feelers for like-minded people at nationwide gatherings of sword enthusiasts, recruiting them into his organization by offering them key posts.(IHT/Asahi: December 25,2003)