Did Japan Botch ISIS Hostage Deal?Posted: January 23, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Diplomacy, Global, Japan, War Room | Tags: Cairo, Government of Japan, Islamic state, Japan, Japanese people, Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzō Abe, Syria, Tokyo, Yoshihide Suga Leave a comment
The country’s ISIS hostage crisis is a tragedy—one that its government helped to create. Is the Abe administration more concerned with saving face than saving lives?
Tsuneoka, who was held hostage in 2010 in Afghanistan and is one of the few Japanese journalists with a pipeline to ISIS, told The Daily Beast last year that the group invited him and Japanese Muslim scholar Hassan Ko Nakata to follow the trial as an Arabic translator.
“There has been some speculation in Japan that the government’s inaction leading up to the release of the hostage video was an attempt to deepen the country’s involvement in the fight against ISIS and justify its remilitarization. Since last year, Abe and his Cabinet have been pushing for a reinterpretation of Japan’s pacifist constitution under the guise of ‘collective self-defense’ that would allow Japan to go to war with its allies…”
But Tsuneoka said he and Nakata were not allowed to travel to Syria to try to negotiate Yukawa’s release after the police raided their homes on October 6, a day before their planned departure, and seized their passports. Tsuneoka was detained for questioning for 24 hours but was not arrested.
“…They also have announced intentions to abolish Article 9, the Japanese constitutional clause that forsakes warfare. These moves have met with widespread opposition among the Japanese but have been downplayed in Japan’s increasingly compliant media.”
Police sources said the raid stemmed from an ongoing police investigation into Tsuneoka’s involvement with a student who may have been attempting to join ISIS. Tsuneoka and the student are under suspicion of violating the rarely enforced Article 93 of Japan’s criminal code, which prohibits “preparing or plotting to wage war privately upon a foreign state”; if arrested, tried, and convicted, the two could face up to five years in prison. Tsuneoka has denied the allegations, though he acknowledges buying an airplane ticket for the student, who had no credit card.
“Now a backlash against the government’s handling of the crisis is growing, with thousands of people tweeting, with some sarcasm, that the prime minister should give himself up to ISIS in exchange for Goto.”
The day after the raid, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that Japan would take measures to “curb extremists.” Japanese nationals would be barred from traveling to Syria, Iraq, or other countries in pursuit of terrorist acts and from offering financial resources to terrorists and extremist groups, in line with domestic law.
In late October, after negotiations for Yukawa’s release had collapsed due to Tsuneoka’s detention, the freelance journalist Kenji Goto arrived in Syria, seeking to establish contact with ISIS and free Yukawa, a friend he had met the previous spring. On October 25, he vanished. His family received an email in November demanding a $10 million ransom for his return. The Japanese government knew he had been kidnapped but did not make the news public…(read more)
- Japanese hostage not enemy of Muslims -Mother (punchng.com)
- Islamic State threatens two Japanese captives in video (scooprocket.com)
- ISIS Threatens to Kill Japanese Hostages (thetakeaway.org)
- Japan on IS Threats: We Will Not Give In to Terrorism (israelnationalnews.com)
- Japan says unable to confirm safety of hostages as deadline expires (menafn.com)
- Abe to express remorse in 70th war-end anniversary statement (english.kyodonews.jp)
- Tokyo unfazed at IS threat (freepressjournal.in)
- Mother of Japanese Journalist Held Captive by ISIS Pleads for His Release (time.com)
- Japanese hostage’s mother pleads for his release as Islamic State deadline passes (timesofmalta.com)
- Reporters Without Borders urges Japanese government to rescue journalist (japansubculture.com)