All Nippon Airways Flight 61
July 23, 1999,
a Boeing 747-481D with 503 passengers, including 14 children and 14 crew
members on board, took off from Tokyo International Airport (Haneda
Airport) in Ota, Tokyo, Japan and was en route to New Chitose Airport in
Chitose, Japan, near Sapporo when it was hijacked by Yuji Nishizawa
(西沢裕司 Nishizawa Yūji).
About 25 minutes after takeoff, Nishizawa used a 20
centimeter kitchen knife to force a flight attendant to allow him access
into the cockpit. He then forced 34-year old co-pilot Kazuyuki Koga
Koga Kazuyuki) out, remaining in the cockpit with captain
Naoyuki Nagashima (長島
Nagashima Naoyuki), who managed to notify ATC about the
hijacking. Nishizawa stabbed Nagashima in the chest and took control of
the plane, at one point descending to an altitude of 300 meters.
At 12:09 P.M., crew members managed to subdue
Nishizawa, and co-pilot Koga got back into the cockpit, telling the air
traffic controllers, "It's an emergency. The captain was stabbed.
Prepare an ambulance." The plane made an emergency landing at Haneda
Airport at 12:14 P.M. and Nishizawa was immediately arrested. A doctor
confirmed the death of Nagashima, of Yokohama, shortly after the plane
landed. Nishizawa was charged with murder.
September 8, 1970
in Tokyo was, at the time, a 28-year old unemployed man from the ward of
Edogawa in Tokyo. During investigation, it was revealed that Nishizawa
had taken a large dose of SSRIs (antidepressants used in the treatment
of depression) before the episode, and he said that he hijacked the
plane because he wanted to fly it under the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo. On
March 23, 2005,
he was found guilty but of unsound mind, thus only partly responsible
for his actions. Presiding judge Hisaharu Yasui handed Nishizawa a life
sentence in 2005.
The family of Nagashima sued ANA, the Japanese state
and Nishizawa's family, over Nagashima's death, alleging that poor
security at the airport and aboard the plane led to the incident. A
settlement with undisclosed terms was reached on
December 21, 2007.
"I wanted to soar through the air,'' reportedly
said to police following his arrest.
It would seem that this story is one that was designed
for my site. I mean there's nothing I like more than to laugh at a real
dickhead, and a what dickhead was Nishizawa.
Yuji was a 28-year-old unemployed man. He had been
treated for depression in the past and had attempted suicide. He was
also a real big fan of computer flight simulation games, so much so that
it was his goal in life to fly a real plane. He seemed to think all his
hours of sitting in front of a computer made him an expert on flying
So what did Yuji do?
On July 23, 1999 he boarded a All Nippon Airways
Boeing 747, flying from Tokyo to the northern city of Sapporo, with the
intent of achieving his goal, no matter what he had to do to do so.
Two minutes after takeoff Yuji Nishizawa pulled out an
8-inch knife and pressed it to a flight attendant's back. He then forced
her to take him into the cockpit.
"If you don't want to die, open the cockpit,''
Once inside the cockpit Nishizawa forced the co-pilot
out and ordered the pilot to steer toward the U.S. military's Yokota Air
Base in western Tokyo. When the pilot refused Yuji stabbed him in the
neck, seized the controls and tried to steer them himself. He was
fulfilling his dream, although I doubt there was someone bleeding to
death in the next seat in Yuji fantasies.
Well it seems that flying wasn't as easy as Yuji
thought, and after a sudden drop in altitude, the co-pilot and another
man burst into the cockpit and pounced on the him, tying him up with
The pilot, Naoyuki Nagashima, 51, was pronounced dead
by a doctor on board. According to news sources, Nagashima suffered stab
wounds in the neck and shoulder and he bled to death. It was the first
death of a passenger or crew member in Japan's 20 airplane hijackings
After the plane arrived back in Tokyo an hour later
the some of the 517 passengers spoke to the press. Most accounts
described Yuji as having 'crazy' hair and dirty white gloves on his
hands. I wonder if they were his flying gloves. Other passengers said
there were signs that the hijacker was troubled before he pulled out his
knife. Yoshiko Kawase, 60, said she noticed the man while he was still
in his seat because he appeared nervous and was wearing gloves.
When Yuji finally had a chance to speak we found out
that all he wanted to do was to fly under Tokyo's Rainbow Bridge.
Yuji Nishizawa pled guilty to most crimes just before
Christmas, 1999. Also during the court hearing that "there is nothing
wrong'' with the hijacking and murder charges against him.
Nishizawa also shouted out during the hearing that he
did not care if he were sentenced to death for the crime.
The Wacky World of Murder
Man gets life for ANA hijacking,
The Japan Times
Thursday, March 24, 2005
A man who hijacked an All
Nippon Airways jumbo jet and killed its pilot in 1999 in a bid to fly it
under the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo Bay was sentenced to life in prison
Nishizawa, 34, was found guilty by The Tokyo District Court of hijacking
the Boeing 747 during a domestic flight in July 1999 and stabbing the
plane's captain, Naoyuki Nagashima, 51, in the chest with a kitchen
knife before briefly taking control of the plane.
During the trial,
Nishizawa confessed to having "considered flying the plane under
the Rainbow Bridge," which crosses Tokyo Bay to link Tokyo's
Shibaura district with the Odaiba district.
Prosecutors had demanded a life
Presiding Judge Hisaharu Yasui said in
handing down the ruling, "The hijacking incident was a dangerous and
vicious crime unprecedented in Japanese crime history and tremendously
damaged public trust in the safe operation of aircraft."
The central argument in the trial was
whether Nishizawa was psychologically fit at the time to have been
responsible for his actions.
The judge decided that Nishizawa, who
was taking antidepressant drugs at the time of the crime, could only be
held partly responsible.
Yasui said: "The defendant bears grave
responsibility for the crime and it would be inevitable to give him
capital punishment. However, the court has decided to commute the
sentence as he had diminished responsibility.
"The defendant impulsively came up with
murderous intent and killed the pilot after suffering intense anxiety
and frustration that he would not be able to carry out his plan to
maneuver the plane as the pilot did not leave the cockpit."
After killing the pilot,
Nishizawa briefly took control of the aircraft, carrying 503 passengers
and 14 crew members, descending at one point to an altitude of 300
During the hearings, his defense team
admitted to the allegations but pleaded not guilty and asked for
clemency by reason of insanity.
Nishizawa apologized for the pilot's
death before the prosecutors made their demands.
"The defendant was completely capable
of taking responsibility and it would be appropriate to demand capital
punishment," said prosecutors. However, they asked for life imprisonment
instead because Nishizawa was under the influence of antidepressant
drugs at the time.
The trial's first psychiatric
evaluation, requested by the defense, diagnosed Nishizawa as having
Asperger's syndrome, a disorder in which a person of normal intelligence
and language ability exhibits autistic-like behavior.
A second evaluation, carried out at the
prosecution's request, concluded that Nishizawa was "under significant
influence of antidepressant drugs and was in a state of diminished
capability at the time of the crime."
The prosecution said Nishizawa's
behavior was "rational" at that time and his killing of the pilot was "part
of his enormous objectives" in what they called a "well-premeditated"
crime. Defense attorneys argued that Nishizawa acted out of a "desire
Nishizawa sneaked onto the ANA flight
bound for Sapporo at Tokyo's Haneda airport on the morning of July 23,
The incident prompted the government to
tighten security at airports nationwide, including setting up a gate
outside baggage claim in Haneda airport to prevent people who are not
passengers from entering the area.
Friday, July 23, 1999
The pilot of an All Nippon
Airways plane has died from stab wounds after overcoming a hijacker.
The plane returned to Tokyo, where the hijacker was
All the other 503 passengers and 14 crew on board
flight ANA61 were safe.
The Boeing 747 was flying from Tokyo's Haneda airport
to the northern city of Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido.
About 25 minutes after take-off, a 28-year-old
Japanese man, identified by police as unemployed Yuji Nishizawa, started
screaming at other passengers and cabin crew.
Armed with a long knife he barged into the cockpit
and - according to one report - demanded to be taken to Yokota, a US
military airbase in western Tokyo.
He forced the co-pilot out of the cockpit and the
plane turned back towards the capital.
One report said that the hijacker at one stage took
the controls himself, but this was not confirmed by the authorities.
The military airbase gave clearance for landing, but
after about 20 minutes, the pilot and three other crew members
overpowered the hijacker and he was restrained.
During the struggle, the pilot was repeatedly stabbed
in the neck and shoulder by the hijacker. He was badly injured and died
from his wounds soon after.
The pilot, Naoyuki Nagashima, 51, was pronounced dead
by a doctor on board shortly after the plane landed in Tokyo one hour
and 20 minutes after taking off.
Prime minister's 'regret'
"It is extemely unfortunate that such an incident
occured," Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi said at the parliament
building in Tokyo.
"I can only express my deep regret," he added.
"We have to examine how the hijacker could enter the
cockpit and what measures were then taken."
The hijacker's motive is not yet known.
According to Japanese officials, it is the first time
in Japan that someone has been killed in connection with a plane hijack.
Under Japanese law, a hijacking which results in a
fatality carries a maximum sentence of the death penalty.
All passengers left the
plane unhurt after the mid-air ordeal.
The pilot, Naoyuki
Nagashima, died on the plane.