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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Hijacking an All Nippon Airways jumbo jet
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 23, 1999
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: September 8, 1970
Victim profile: Naoyuki Nagashima, 51 (the plane's captain)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: In the air. Japan
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on March 23, 2005

All Nippon Airways Flight 61

On 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 (古賀 和幸 Koga Kazuyuki) out, remaining in the cockpit with captain Naoyuki Nagashima (長島 直之 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.

Nishizawa, born 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.


Yuji Nishizawa

"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 planes.

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 neckties.

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 since 1970.

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, killing pilot

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 Wednesday.

Yuji 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 sentence.

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 meters.

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 for suicide."

Nishizawa sneaked onto the ANA flight bound for Sapporo at Tokyo's Haneda airport on the morning of July 23, 1999.

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.


Japanese hijacker kills pilot

BBC News

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 arrested.

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.



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