Former Japanese Captive Recounts Peruvian Hostage Crisis 25 Yrs Ago


Lima, April 21 (Jiji Press)--With Friday marking 25 years since the end of the hostage crisis at the residence of the then Japanese ambassador to Peru, a survivor recounted his memories of being held captive by guerrilla forces for 127 days.

Yoshihiko Sakai, 75, was president of the local unit of major Japanese seasoning maker Ajinomoto Co. <2802> at the time of the incident.

Sakai, who met with eight other former hostages at a restaurant in Tokyo on Sunday, said in an online interview after the gathering that he remembers clearly when members of the leftist guerrilla group Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) stormed the Japanese ambassador's official residence.

At the time, numerous guests were at the residence in the Peruvian capital of Lima for a party to celebrate the birthday of then Japanese Emperor Akihito, the father of current Emperor Naruhito and now holding the title of emperor emeritus.

When the guerrilla group blew a hole in a wall of a house behind the official residence, a woman who appeared to be the wife of a Japanese expatriate participating in the party mistook the pillar of fire from the explosion for fireworks and said, "Wow! It's beautiful," Sakai recalled. Gunshots rang out soon after that, marking the start of a long nightmare, according to Sakai.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press