Airliner briefly commandeered by knife-wielding suspect in Japan
Jan. 20, 1997
TOKYO (AP) _ A hijacker armed with a 6-inch kitchen knife was arrested in southern Japan today after trying to commandeer a domestic airliner carrying 192 people. No one was injured, and a news agency reported the suspect was drunk.
The All Nippon Airways Boeing 777 was hijacked a half-hour into its flight from Osaka to the southern city of Fukuoka, said Naomi Okimoto, a spokeswoman for the airlines.
The flight arrived on schedule at Fukuoka International Airport, 560 miles southwest of Tokyo, and the suspect was apprehended minutes later, Okimoto said.
The suspect, identified as Yuichi Yano, 31, was charged with illegal possession of a weapon, said Masanori Hayashi of the Fukuoka Prefectural Police.
Hayashi said Yano was arrested when he left the plane with other passengers.
The plane's captain radioed airport officials about the hijacking as the flight was on its way to Fukuoka. Officials earlier had suggested the trouble only began after the plane landed.
The hijacker wanted to fly to another country, but agreed to allow the passengers to get off the plane before leaving, the national broadcaster NHK reported. It was unclear where the hijacker wanted to go.
Fukuoka police said the suspect was carrying a kitchen knife often used for cutting fruit. Kyodo News said the hijacker was drunk but police could not confirm that.
All 182 passengers _ including the hijacker _ and 10 crew members were taken off the plane without injuries, officials said. The airport was closed.
TV footage during the incident showed the plane parked at an airport terminal building, with an elevated walkway attached to the front hatch. The pilot and co-pilot could be seen through the windshield, sitting still.
NHK reported the hijacker was in the cockpit the whole time, and passengers never knew about it.
``We had no hint of it,'' one unidentified passenger said. ``We were just told to wait, presumably because it was crowded, and then were told about it after we got off the plane.''
The hijacking was the second in recent years in Japan attempted with a small weapon.
In 1995 a bank employee hijacked a plane from Tokyo to the northern island of Hokkaido, using a screwdriver and a bag containing what he claimed was poison gas.
He held 364 people for 16 hours before he was arrested in a predawn raid.