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Mei Shigenobu

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Title: Mei Shigenobu  
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Subject: Fusako Shigenobu, Leila Khaled, Japanese journalists, Lebanese people, Japanese Red Army
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Mei Shigenobu

Mei Shigenobu
Born (1973-03-01) March 1, 1973
Beirut, Lebanon
Nationality Japanese
Other names May Shigenobu

Mei Shigenobu (重信 メイ Shigenobu Mei, born 1 March 1973) is the daughter of Japanese Red Army member Fusako Shigenobu and of a Palestinian who was reportedly the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.[1][2] Some news agencies have given her name as May Shigenobu.


  • Early life 1
  • Return to Japan 2
  • In popular culture 3
  • Publications 4
  • References 5

Early life

She was born in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, though she was not a citizen of any country until March 2001, when she received Japanese citizenship.[3][4] Shigenobu lived some of her childhood years in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon; Fusako Shigenobu was absent for months at a time and Mei was raised in those periods by her mother's comrades in the Japanese Red Army and Arab friends and supporters. After three Japanese volunteers for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine PFLP External Operations executed an attack on Israel's Lod Airport (see Lod Airport massacre) on 30 May 1972, PFLP leaders and other Japanese volunteers became targets for Israel's assassinations. In retaliation for the attack, PFLP's spokesman Ghassan Kanafani was killed in July 8, 1972 by the Israeli Intelligence Agency Mossad in a car bomb. Mei's mother became wanted by the INTERPOL in 1974 after the French embassy hostage-taking in Hague in which she was thought to be involved, so Mei had to move frequently and use aliases to evade reprisals by her mother's enemies.[5] She had her early education in several schools in Lebanon and in other countries she refuses to name. May studied Journalism at the Lebanese University as well as going to the American University of Beirut in Lebanon for her tertiary education where she continued her graduate studies in International Relations. During those years, she learned to speak fluent Arabic and English, but hid her knowledge of Japanese, fearing that if her identity as Fusako Shigenobu's daughter were to become known publicly, her mother might be captured.[6]

Return to Japan

She came out of hiding after her mother was captured in Osaka, and visited Japan for the first time in April 2001, making her the first child of a Red Army member to return to Japan in five years.[7] She was the subject of some controversy in December 2001 when she gave a talk at a public school in Kanagawa prefecture about Arab culture and food at the invitation of a teacher there; the Israeli embassy in Tokyo sent a complaint to the school, describing her discussion as conveying "blatant, biased political" anti-Israeli sentiments.[8] She then began working as an English teacher in a cram school in Tokyo.[5] Japanese lawyers, scholars, journalists, writers and activists responded by signing a protest petition against the Israeli embassy and government saying that Mei was now a Japanese citizen and had the right to freedom of speech in Japan.

Mei later became an anchor on Japanese cable television channel Asahi Newstar's (TV Asahi's news channel) one hour live political programme News no Shinsō.[9] She is currently MBC's (Middle East Broadcasting Center, the United Arab Emirates' Arabic satellite channel) Tokyo correspondent, reporting in Arabic about Japan.[10]

She earned her PhD degree in Media Studies from Doshisha University in 2011, doing research on the development of Arabic media, and the effect of satellite channels (a case study of Al Jazeera) on Arab societies.

Mei Shigenobu is a supporter of Palestinian statehood and a critic of Israel. In contrast to Ulrike Meinhof's daughter's Bettina's disavowal, shown in Children of the Revolution, she views her mother's actions with pride, to the point of stating that she considers her a role model, merely repeating, as her mother, that those were different times, as she mentioned to the Standard, "there were no means of gaining media attention",[6] and with today's media and communitation other venues prove far more effective.

She attempted to justify the group's terrorist activities by making the claim that in the 70s/80s people had very different "moral values", different "sensibilities and ways of thinking", regarding crimes such as massacres, murders of civilians, hijackings and kidnappings,[6] possibly implying that such differences were so enormous as to make any judgments of the organization's crimes impossible or unfair, but without explaining either what those differences were, or how they were reflected in the legal system in such a way that would excuse the group's violence, specifically, compared to all other similar crimes and atrocities committed in those years, or even why, contrary to such assertions, the organizations' actions were publicly condemned by the general population and deemed illegal even at the time.

On those grounds, possibly implying that her mother's sentence specifically should be therefore rendered invalid -and echoing her mother's claim that since the terrorist acts the group committed had a political aim, she should not be convicted, but rather offered a "political way out"-,[1][5][11] she said to The Standard: "We live in a different era ... we pick up a person from there and choose to sentence her using today's sensibility, today's values and today's way of thinking."[6]

In popular culture

Mei Shigenobu appears in Nobuyuki Oura's November 2006 movie 9/11-8/15 Japan Pack Suicide (『9.11-8.15-日本心中-』).[2][12] Mei also appears in Documentary on Zunou Keisatsu ドキュメンタリー頭脳警察 (2009), a documentary featuring the life of the Japanese Rock band "Zunou Keisatu" 頭脳警察 (Brain Police) and its lead singer PANTA.[13][14]

In 2010, Mei costarred in the fictional Japanese movie on figure skating Coach as a sports journalist.[15][16] In 2010, Mei Shigenobu and her mother Fusako Shigenobu were featured in Shane O'Sullivan's documentary film Children of the Revolution, which premiered at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam.[17][18] In 2011, Mei Shigenobu was featured in Eric Baudelaire's experimental movie The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, and 27 years without Images along with filmmaker and Japanese Red Army member Masao Adachi, which was entered at the 22nd Marseilles International Film Festival.[19]

On 10 September 2012, Mei Shigenobu appeared as a guest in the program Free word on George Galloway.



  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c
  6. ^ a b c d
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Movie “9/11-8/15 Japan Pack Suicide" (『9.11-8.15-日本心中-』) Official Trailer.
  13. ^ "Documentary- Zunou Keisatsu" Official Movie Trailer 映画『ドキュメンタリー 頭脳警察』予告編.
  14. ^ "Documentary- Zunou Keisatsu" Official website 映画『ドキュメンタリー頭脳警察』公式サイト
  15. ^ "COACH" official long version movie trailer,
  16. ^ Movie "COACH" official website 映画 COACH公式サイト
  17. ^ "Children of the Revolution" premiers at the 24th International Documentary Film Festival International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam official website
  18. ^ Children of the Revolution Trailer - Internet Movie Database
  19. ^ Movie "The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, and 27 years without Images" official selection for First competition at Marseilles International Film Festival FID Marseille 2011 official webpage
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