TOKYO, June 22 -- A female singer aboard hijacked All Nippon Airways Flight 857 used a cellular phone Wednesday to provide information that helped Hokkaido police end the 15-hour ordeal, Japanese television reports said Thursday. Folk singer Tokiko Kato slipped into a restroom on board the airplane and used her mobile phone to call in information to her mother and her husband, who then alerted police. It was with her help that police learned there was only one hijacker and that he was armed with what was later identified as a screwdriver. Authorities identified the hijacker a Fumio Kutsumi, 53, an employee of Toyo Trust and Banking Co. of Tokyo who is on 'temporary retirement, ' a reference to those who are actually unemployed but still on staff. The hijacker was initially identified as Saburo Kobayashi, a name he told the flight crew after hijacking the plane Wednesday en route from Tokyo to Hakodate Airport in northern Hokkaido island. Kutsumi was taken into custody at about 3:45 a.m. Thursday as Hokkaido police, some of them dressed as airport maintenance workers, stormed the airplane, which was parked on the tarmac at Hakodate Airport. Police initially said the hijacker was a suspected member of the Aum Supreme Truth sect that is blamed for the deadly March poison gas attack on Tokyo's subway system. But they later backed away from linking him to the cult. The hijacker's shirt was splotched with blood as he was led away by police, but it was not known if weapons were used in subduing him, nor did authorities say if he was wounded.
Reports said Kutsumi lives with his daughter in Tokyo's Ota ward and neighbors interviewed by Japanese television said his wife has not been seen in at least a year. A handwritten letter sent early Thursday to United Press International from Aum Supreme Truth headquarters in Tokyo said that if the hijacker were a member, he would be expelled immediately. The letter, accompanied by a typed page, was signed 'Tomoko Matsumoto, acting leader of Aum Shinrikyo.' Matsumoto is the wife of jailed sect leader Shoko Asahara. Aum spokesman Hiroshi Araki told UPI that both documents were actually written by Aum spokesman Fumihiro Joyu. The letter also denied that Aum ordered the attack. 'It is against our religious principles to do such a thing and if he is really a member and does not obey our order to surrender, it goes without saying that we will expel him from our sect.' ANA Flight 857 notified Hakodate Airport in northern Japan that a hijack was in progress just after noon Wednesday, 26 minutes after taking off from Tokyo for the northern island of Hokkaido. A special task force headed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kozo Igarashi decided at about 1 a.m. Thursday to storm the plane and attempt to rescue the 350 passengers and 15 crew members aboard. Authorities acknowledged it was a risky operation, since there were seven children and 95 senior citizens on board. 'It was a truly welcoming development,' Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said of the 3:42 a.m. raid that ended the siege. Only one person aboard the plan was injured. An unidentified woman received a minor cut from the screwdriver wielded by the hijacker.