Aratani’s body brought back from Algeria

Exec's death tied to insider plot; JGC employee remains missing

Kyodo, JIJI

The body of the 10th Japanese killed during the hostage crisis in Algeria arrived in Japan on Saturday, a day after the bodies of the nine other victims were returned with the seven survivors.

The body of Tadanori Aratani, 66, a former vice president of engineering firm JGC Corp. and its top adviser at the time, arrived at Narita airport near Tokyo aboard a commercial aircraft.

The identity of Aratani, who oversaw resources development projects in Algeria and other countries and made regular visits to the gas field complex attacked by Islamic militants at Ain Amenas, was confirmed by initials carved into his ring.

Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Minoru Kiuchi, who had been in Algeria to locate Aratani, was also on the plane.

After being briefed by Kiuchi, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters he was angry about the terrorist attack.

“It is truly regrettable that the precious lives of Japanese people were lost due to the Algerian government’s military operation,” Abe said.

“At the same time, I learned that they paid the utmost consideration to the victims in implementing the operation. I hope they will cooperate with us in investigating the case,” he said.

Aratani had flown to Ain Amenas to meet with JGC’s clients. His death, according to foreign news reports, points to the possibility that insiders helped organize the well-planned raid.

The gas plant in eastern Algeria, where JGC, known as Nikki in Japanese, was hired to build facilities, was taken over on Jan. 16 and resulted in the capture of dozens of hostages.

Algerian forces attacked the site over the next few days, resulting in the deaths of 37 hostages from eight countries and 29 militants.

In addition to the 10 Japanese, six foreign personnel who were working for the company there were also killed and another foreigner remains unaccounted for.

Following the return of the first nine bodies Friday, the Kanagawa Prefectural Police department carried out autopsies to determine their causes of death. But the police will not publicly disclose its findings to avoid traumatizing the families, a senior police official said.

The Kanagawa police have opened an investigation into alleged murder, abduction and confinement under a Japanese Penal Code provision that allows authorities to investigate criminal offenses committed against Japanese overseas.

The police plan to probe the attack and how the victims were killed, based on the results of the autopsies and testimonies from the survivors.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mustapha.mokrane Mustapha Mokrane

    “It is truly regrettable that the precious lives of Japanese people were lost due to the Algerian government’s military operation,”
    Sorry mister Abe, but the lives of Japanese people were lost primarily because of the actions of pitiless terrorists and not the Algerian government military rescue operation. These are indeed very sad events, but your ‘anger’ should not obliterate your common sense. A leader in your position should know that solving such crisis is not an easy task, which makes your declaration even more outrageous.

  • Guest

    “It is truly regrettable that the precious lives of Japanese people were lost due to the Algerian government’s military operation,”
    Sorry mister Abe but the lives of Japanese people were lost primarily because of the actions of pitiless terrorists and not the Algerian government military rescue operation. These are indeed very sad events, but your ‘anger’ should not obliterate your common sense. A leader in your position should know that solving such crisis is not an easy task, which makes your declaration even more outrageous.

  • Edohiguma

    I’m somehow convinced that most may have been killed in the crossfire or from insanely irresponsible use of explosive ordnance by the military. From what I’ve read the Algerian military chased some cars that held hostages and terrorists with a helicopter and even opened fire on them (according to one hostage even setting off one of the bombs in the car), thus risking the lives of the hostages without any care.

    Which shows again that such operations must be conducted by the armed forces of the hostages’ countries, since there’s absolutely no way that the units in a country like Algeria are even remotely on the same level as in Japan, USA or Austria. A unit like the COBRA, GSG9, KSK, SEALs, Delta, etc, can get those people out in one piece. Locals usually more like crazy cowboys, popping off rounds at anything that moves.

    These 37 people wouldn’t have died if the assault on the compound would have been done by actual professionals instead of gun toting lunatics in uniform.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mustapha.mokrane Mustapha Mokrane

      Your comment is not only insulting but also utterly misinformed. Wait until proper investigations are carried out before treating people who put their lives in danger and some even lost their lives to save the hostages of being lunatics.

      Your reasoning is completely unacceptable regarding armed operations of the hostage’s country. Would you accept, as a Japanese, that the Chinese Army operates on Japanese territory if Chinese citizens are held hostages in Japan.

      Algeria has endured Islamist terrorist attacks for many year and has trained with the help of France and the US professional Special Forces.

      Just for your reference, in january, France completely failed to rescue hostages in Somalia with highly trained special forces and state of the art equipment. All hostages were killed and two French soldiers died: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/12/world/africa/somalia-helicopter-raid/index.html