Journalists criticize Abe’s response to hostage crisis

by and

Staff Writers

As the hostage drama continues over two Japanese held by the Islamic State group, journalists versed in Middle Eastern affairs are questioning how the Abe administration is handling the crisis.

The fate of the two men — freelance journalist Kenji Goto, 47, and Haruna Yukawa, 42 — hangs in the balance, now that the 72-hour deadline the Japanese government presumes was 2:50 p.m. Friday has passed.

The Islamic State militants released a video on the Internet midday Tuesday showing the two Japanese in orange jump suits, kneeling and being threatened by a masked, knife-wielding man. The man warned, in English with a British accent, that the two would be killed unless Tokyo paid a $200 million ransom within 72 hours.

The crisis erupted while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was on a six-day tour of the Middle East. At a hastily arranged news conference Tuesday evening, Abe said he would prioritize saving the lives of the hostages but vowed at the same time never to “give in” to terrorism.

The venue for the news conference, however, could not have been worse, a journalist involved in Mideast affairs said.

“The Abe administration’s handling of the situation has been very bad,” Fumikazu Nishitani, a Japanese freelance journalist who is involved with a nongovernmental organization helping Iraqi children, said Friday.

“First of all, Abe did his press conference after the video appeared in Israel, which created a negative image in the Islamic world.”

Nishitani also said Abe turned to the wrong country for help. The government decided to set up a liaison office in Jordan, sending State Minister for Foreign Affairs Yasuhide Nakayama to Amman to head up a response effort.

“The Japanese government should not be relying heavily on Jordan, which can’t do anything,” he said. “Turkey is the key, so they should have set up a liaison office in Turkey right away.”

Journalist Toshi Maeda, a friend of Goto’s who has been monitoring the crisis, echoed Nishitani’s view, criticizing Abe’s Thursday night telephone conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

“The government should turn to Turkey instead of the U.K. and the United States, if it’s really serious about negotiating for the release of the men,” he said.

Turkey has succeeded in freeing its hostages in the past. The United States and Britain, meanwhile, maintain a zero-concessions policy. Some European countries and Japan are believed to have paid to free their citizens, though in many cases the negotiations and ransom amounts are never publicly divulged.

Even in the early stages of the crisis, Japanese officials made comments that did little to help the situation, if not ruin it completely.

Masahiko Komura, vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told reporters Wednesday morning that the government will not pay, though the comment has not been backed by other officials.

Top officials, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, have not gone so far as to reject payment.

Maeda said he is keeping his fingers crossed.

“It’s usually the case that the details of negotiations are withheld, especially good news,” he said. “I’m hoping for a complete turnaround of the events for the better.”

  • Imgunnalearn James

    Paying money to terrorists who will use it to fund a war that will kill countless innocent people in exchange for 2 people who knew the risks they were taking… yeah that sounds like a good idea. These men are smart enough to understand that as soon as they were captive they were dead men, letting himself be used as a bargaining chip for ISIS, in the same position i’d have bitten my tongue and died knowing they wouldn’t get a penny because of me.

    If they are killed, ISIS succeed in spreading their message, but its up to the people to accept it or not, if they are paid ransom ISIS flat out wins.

    For the sanity of it all, I hope they don’t get a single yen.

    • Barry Rosenfeld

      That point of view has always been with the Americans and their British lackeys and where has it gotten them? All their hostages dead. The Japanese were wise not to follow the Americans in this. Lastly if I was a betting man and if you were caught by ISIS who wouldn’t say that your own mother would implore the US to pay ransom on your behalf and wouldn’t you be relieved to have had that done on your behalf? American hypocrite.

      • Batters Box

        You have prejudged Imgunnalearn and created your own scenerio to fit your anti american hate.Of course his mother would implore and of course he would be relieved to be free THAT does not make him a hypocrite if he dodges a bullet from circumstances during an incident and much less after the fact a reaction cannot be weighed against a persons opinion.. You sir have very faulty logic and the venom has already taken a toll on your intellectual capacities.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        You live up to your name alright, battering away at reality. As for hating Americans, I would suggest first off my Middle American friend that you learn how to read. I only reserved my venom for Middle Americans like you and their white trash uneducated Christian Right tendencies who have caused untold harm to the ME and have turned this planet upside down. Praytell where have I said I hated Americans, all 400 million of them?

      • Batters Box

        maybe Santa will make a list of whos naughty and nice so we will all know what to expect at Christmas

      • Batters Box

        maybe Santa will make a list of whos naughty and nice so we will all know what to expect at Christmas

    • Eagle

      ISIS doesn’t want money, they have their own sponsors to finance them otherwise they would already be nowhere. They want to create fear and obedience and they serve their real sponsors loyally.
      Organized terrorism is not a kind of business that can be financed through ransoms. To create and keep ISIS functional is not a cheap game. Even the blind can see. Ransom is only a pocket money for them.

      They are just players in a bigger game. All of them are disposable. They have no industry, have no financial and technological background, have no their own financial system just purchased and given weapons and ammunition. When they get no more supply, logistic, intelligence and orders they are dead in 24 hours. Money is not an almighty life support for them. They can only use the money until they are sold weapons for it. They don’t use their own made weapons, yes?

    • Barry Rosenfeld

      Keep learning Mr. Middle America.

      • Batters Box

        You are an arrogant imp. Keep learning? exactly what thought provoking insight have you provided. You have counted dead hostages and attribute their fate to the logical political reprecussions only yourself have deemed accurate and correct.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Yawn…..go home will you? What a boring little git you are.

  • timefox

    Islamic nation isn’t a country. An ordinary terrorist group.
    And government don’t negotiate with a terrorist. This is an international rule.
    The attitude of the Japanese Government to a terrorist is right.
    It’s wrong to criticize Abe political power for a hostage event.

    A terrorist kidnaped Japanese.
    A terrorist restricted Japanese.
    A terrorist threatened Japanese.
    A terrorist will kill Japanese.
    A terrorist should be criticized.

    Using a terrorist, it’s a mistake to ask Abe political power for compromise.
    That’s same as supporting a terrorist.
    Are you terrorist’s company?

    It’s unrelated to the reason that you criticize Japanese Government.
    It’s a mistake to criticize Japanese Government using terrorist’s insistence.

    • KansaiJoe

      Rubbish. Absolute rubbish.

      First off, it’s never not a good time to critcize a government. When you no longer have the freedom to call a ruling body to account, even in times of hardship, then you have lost the fundamental right to free speech.

      Secondly, who in the hell are you to tell anyone who they can and cannot criticize? You have the right to your opinion, but to call these two JT writers terrorists simply because they do not follow your political view is absurd.

      Thirdly, your insistence on the word “Japanese” here is an insidious attempt at using this issue as capital to promote your own jingoistic agenda. In actuality, your comment has sweet FA to do with the matter of terrorism and the hostage crisis.

      • Batters Box

        Up your butt with free speech that’s is free speech and like most free things is worthless. The people always promoting free speech in many situations usually have the most invaluable opinions and contributions and thats why they clothe it in the phrase free speech should be free with that I agree.

    • Batters Box

      Exactly Timefox, It is the terrorists that must be held accountable..

  • Disqus2Learn

    Journalist caught between this mess…… wrong time, wrong location.

  • Disqus2Learn

    Japanese government should pay Journalist to be free……

    • Batters Box

      Your crazy and if they pay how do you think the money will be used? And Japan will look weak and efforts against terrorists look weak. Many have already died fighting against these terrorists. It would be a slap in the face of fighters that are willing and have died.

  • Travis458

    Citizens can give leaders big problems. Not all leaders are going to react perfectly. Turkey better than Jordon? Most likely. Enriching the most savage of rebel factions because of war tourists and a war journalist that made bad judgements? Its going to lead to bad consequences.

  • Eagle

    It looks like the kidnapping was well-timed to the visit of Abe.
    Who asked for that? Whose interests does it serve beyond the ransom?
    Was Netanyahu’s hand in it? Just asking but wouldn’t be surprise if the answer is, “yes” or at least he knew about it well before. Remember what Netanyahu told to Abe? “Japan cannot be an exception”

    Why on earth did Abe go to Israel to let himself blackmailed and driven by Netanyahu when Netanyahu’s days are numbered anyway?

    Now it seems to me that Abe doesn’t give a damn about the hostages and attempts to use the situation to gain advantages to his dirty work to loot Japan further on and strengthen his position. Abe is a man easy to blackmail. He is a coward. He doesn’t care about Japan at all. Who is his real boss? Who is the boss here?

    Well, Abe seems to pay respect to Netanyahu. Does he want to end the same way as Netanyahu will? Or going to choose side? A bit too late. Couldn’t have made a bigger mistake.

  • Freedom2Disqus

    Japanese journalist caught between Middle East ISIS mess!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Save the Journalist.

  • FRANKOK

    Need to get Warthogs based in Turkey. Rev up the Warthogs – a hundred sorties a day. Search “A-10 Warthog Gatling Gun”
    If you rape a woman who goes to prison or your buddies stone her to death, You may belong to ISIS, AQIS, AQAP, AQIM, Al Qaeda, Al-Nusra Front, DAESH cutthroats, Boko Haram, or Khorasan Group.
    Search: “How Sharia Law Punishes Raped Women