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Crisis awakens Japanese to shortcomings, realities

by , and

Staff Writers

The hostage crisis that blew up on Jan. 20 and ended so tragically taught Japan about the reality of life in a strife-filled part of the world, and the video journalist who had tried so hard to explain that with images ended up doing so with his own life.

Moreover, the extremist who put a knife to his throat on camera declared coldly that Japan’s nightmare of terror is about to begin. Bravado or not, it was a sinister and hate-filled declaration — and one that may contain some truth.

Japan has enjoyed good relationships with many Arab nations. And in general, Arabs have expressed affection for the nation that lost World War II but through resilience and hard work rose to prosperity.

But as far as the Islamic State militants are concerned, that may no longer be the case.

Motohiro Ono, a Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker and noted expert on Middle East affairs, said Kenji Goto’s slaughter may have removed a psychological barrier for other extremists to begin targeting Japanese citizens.

“There was always a distinction between Japan and the United States, even though Japan was widely known to have been close to the U.S. and to European countries,” Ono said. “But the Islamic State’s logic has shown that Japan and the U.S. alike are enemy countries.

“Japan won’t be the prime target yet, but it may now be one terror target of many. . . . (Extremists) will no longer feel a pang of conscience in targeting Japanese citizens,” Ono added.

But Yutaka Takaoka, a researcher at the Middle East Institution of Japan, believes little has changed: He says there never had been a strong distinction between Japan and the West.

Many Islamic extremists, he added, have considered Japan to be among their enemies over the past decade or so.

Hostility toward Japan “rises and falls from situation to situation,” Takaoka said.

The hostage crisis likely increased their interest in Japan, and Japanese expatriates and travelers overseas should exercise greater vigilance, Takaoka said.

Osamu Miyata, who heads the Center for Contemporary Islamic Studies in Japan, said Goto’s killing has shown some of the risks of being a close ally of the United States.

Last year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe amended the official interpretation of the pacifist Constitution to lift the long-standing ban on the right of collective self-defense, which would allow Japan to aid allies under attack.

By doing this, Abe aims to expand the range of possible missions the Self-Defense Forces can join, in the event that Japan’s “vital national interests” are threatened.

“The use of the right of collective self-defense means (Japan) would fight together with the United States in an integrated manner. So the risks of (terrorist attacks) like this will rise,” Miyata said.

Japan should draw a clear line to separate itself from countries like the U.S. and Israel in its diplomacy in the Middle East, Miyata argues.

But an increased fear of terrorism among the public might also give political momentum for Abe to revise laws expanding the use of force overseas.

During a news conference Sunday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga admitted that the government is considering revising laws to allow the SDF to evacuate Japanese citizens in the event of an overseas crisis. But he said this change has no connection with the hostage crisis of the past two weeks.

Sadakazu Tanigaki, secretary-general of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, said such legislation might have a limited impact: It would allow Japan to deploy SDF units only with a host nation’s approval.

But many in Japan, particularly those on the left, remain skeptical about how far Abe would push his ambition to adopt a broader range of military roles overseas.

Tokyo has been at pains to emphasize that its economic aid to the region is nonmilitary and humanitarian in nature, designed only to help the millions of refugees and other displaced people in the region.

Suga declared in the same news conference that Japan would not provide logistics support for the U.S.-led coalition engaged in airstrikes against the Islamic State group.

But it is also true that Japan is a close U.S. military ally in regions other than the Middle East, and Abe is trying to boost the nation’s flexibility overseas to defend its national interests.

Abe has repeatedly said such a case would be rare and that the war-renouncing Constitution, even under his new interpretation, would never allow the SDF to join a coalition force like the one that participated in the Gulf War and was responsible for the Iraq War.

The hostage crisis, meanwhile, exposed sharp inadequacies in the Japanese government’s ability to deal with the Islamic State group.

Abe repeatedly said his “top priority” was to save the lives of the two hostages. He said his government was using “every diplomatic channel available” to influence the militants and that Japan would “never give in to terrorism.”

But behind the scenes, senior officials have bemoaned the fact that Japan had little option but to humbly ask another government for “cooperation.” This was particularly true of Goto, who remained alive a week longer than fellow hostage Haruna Yukawa.

“Japan was incompetent” in negotiating with the Islamic State group, one high-ranking official said Tuesday in a markedly blunt assessment.

On Jan. 24, the extremists released a recording purporting to show it had killed Yukawa.

That was the moment the group apparently switched its demands for Goto’s freedom from a ransom to the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a failed suicide bomber jailed in Jordan.

Jordan is part of the U.S.-led coalition hitting Islamic State targets with airstrikes. It is seen as a core enemy of the militants.

“Japan was no longer a player, and it was Jordan” that was handling the prisoner swap proposal, said Masanori Naito, a professor of Islamic area studies at Doshisha University.

“Japan could not play a key role in releasing the hostages. In that sense, Japan was right to keep silent” while waiting for the outcome of negotiations between Jordan and the Islamic State group, Naito said.

Meanwhile, Fumikazu Nishitani, a Japanese journalist familiar with Middle East affairs, believes it was a “grave mistake” to set up a crisis headquarters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, as Abe chose to do.

It was difficult for the extremists to accept negotiations with Jordan, Nishitani said.

“(Abe) should have quickly switched his negotiation route to that of Turkey,” which has somewhat better ties with the extremists, he said.

Full coverage of the Islamic State hostage crisis

  • Tohmsa Hatrman

    As tragic as the execution is, there is not much that can be done in the short run. In the long run, Japan must join the campaign against religious extremism, starting with continuing its opposition to internal forces that might lead to a rise in right wing xenophobia in Japan.

    • Shiki Byakko

      In the end nothing has changed, just everyone, including you, will use this event to push their own personal agendas.

      I hate humans.

    • Barry Rosenfeld

      No doubt you are of the ‘Nuke em’ crowd which, indeed places a discount on your views.

  • Claire Shao

    Pray for Japan. This is the vacuum left by the USA as they cut and run from the world stage… Yes this is the Barack Obama Foreign Policy!

    Obama has sat on his hands while ISIS slowly took over the Middle East… while Boko Harum continued to kidnap girls in Barack’s native land. Obama picked a stupid fight with Putin. Obama has ruined our country.

    Obama has crippled the US economy. Everybody I know is either out of work or under-employed. I haven’t had a raise in years (despite all my expenses increasing from year to year). My health insurance is now up to $400/month. Before the government touched it, it was $170/month! My auto insurance, which the government has yet to ruin, is thankfully only $25/month (from Insurance Panda). Please, Obama! Don’t try to socialize auto insurance!

    With everything Obama touched in shambles, Barry needs a new job. The guy needs to step down before he is impeached.

  • rohan_M

    throw out every Muslim from Japan .

    • Shiki Byakko

      Better all idiots, that way we can include you.

    • GIJ

      Those Muslims residing in Japan would include about 25,000 citizens of Indonesia, the country that is home to more Muslims than any other on earth. Japanese manufacturers enjoy something like 90 percent market share in Indonesia’s passenger car market. The two countries have a good bilateral relationship, certainly far less tense than Japan’s relations with South Korea and China. But I guess you think Japan can become officially anti-Muslim without any consequences.

      • rohan_M

        Then keep sacrificing Japaneses to ISIS

    • Barry Rosenfeld

      How about starting with you? I know who you are personally, should I divulge your true identity and address?

      • rohan_M

        U may if you can BB

      • Concerned Citizen

        Barry Rosenfeld is an “Internet Tough-guy” or “Internet Bully” if you prefer… I really wish that we could have a face-to-face conversation and then we would see just how pompous and arrogant you are then… Threatening to divulge someone’s true identity and their address is a direct threat to the safety and security of that person.

        You should be arrested…

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        I think that Rohan can fight his own battles loser,

      • Concerned Citizen

        I think it is pretty clear to everyone that you are the only loser here on these comments

  • Robert

    muslims hate not believers. they just hadn’t had a chance to prove it till now.

  • Mr_Amagi

    The grisly execution of one man, however evilly carried out, cannot rationally be termed a national crisis. It is rather a high profile media event that the American Empire will cynically propagandize for its own purposes. Japan would be quite foolish to be drawn in.

    • J. S. Hansenius

      ISIL is talking to Japan and Japan is talking back. The US is not really in the picture. It’s naive to think that Japan can be isolated from the conflict. Do you think that ISIL is ok with Japan, with its polytheistic culture of pork eating mini-skirted population? Don’t be a fool. It’s not a link to the US that is causing this. ISIL is at war with non radicalized islamic culture.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Praytell, please explain in your infinite wisdom how on earth that
        “It’s naive to think that Japan can be isolated from the conflict”…

        Unless you have woken from your slumber since 1948, show me one instance of where Japan as a country has been targeted by the all or one or the above, 1. PLO, 2. Al Queda, 3. ISIS…..? None. Now listen why don’t you think before you write or are you so bored that you’re underemployed to write such drivel?

      • redwings79

        “Now listen why don’t you think before you write or are you so bored that you’re underemployed to write such drivel?”

        Considering your posts are all over the IS hostage articles, it seems that you yourself are a bit bored and underemployed. If you cannot prove your point without resorting to personal insults, then perhaps you’re not as smart as you seem to think.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Hardly, just write sensibly instead of glibly and you won’t have to read what I write to people like you who tend to write without reading properly, if at all.

      • redwings79

        One trick pony I see. My issue is not a matter of writing ability, rather a tendency of “people like you” to debase any opinion which run counter to yours, by labelling people as “uneducated” or my personal favourite “yanks”. Yet for someone who is all-knowing, your approach to debate is rather juvenile. By the way, you might want to review your “facts” as well, the Japanese Red Army (who took a plane hostage and planned a number of bombings/shootings, active in the 1960-70’s) did in fact have connections to groups which were the early processors of the PLO and were based in Lebanon. This naturally drew Japanese diplomacy into the Middle East, demanding the rendition of former members until to mid-2000’s. Now you will retort that this is not an attack against Japan, to which you are correct. I’m merely pointing out that besides Japanese dependency on Middle Eastern oil and the attack against Japanese workers in Algeria two years ago, there are and have been connections to Middle Eastern affairs. Then again, I’m guessing my years of post-graduate research into Japanese diplomacy carry no weight with you, since like everyone else I can’t read apparently. Cheers

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        I am well aware of Shigenobu’s activities vis a vis the Red Army and as a matter of interest know her daughter quite well thank you very much. I would suggest that you read Koike Yuriko’s (google her if you don’t know who she is as I think you don’t) account when she was a student at Cairo University during her early twenties and of why her father suggested she study in the ME for Japan’s sake. It was not an accident that Japan studiously steer clear of ME politics from the 60’s until now. And for your information I had received my PhD from Kyoto University and therefore fluent in Japanese. So, Yes, I do know my ‘facts’ very well thank you very much, far more than you ever will. For you seem to think that the earlier PLO epiosodes along with the Japanese Red Army are linked to Al Queda and ISIS. If you think that, then I have a bridge to sell you.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Silenced you didn’t I? No doubt checking who the hell Koike Yuriko and Shigenobu are no doubt for a comeback.

      • Concerned Citizen

        People like you are the reason we left England and then quickly defeated you when you tried to come to America and tax us…
        Go put your red coat on you pompous moron…

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Speak for yourself…..Get a proper job then come back and speak to me.

      • J. S. Hansenius

        my wisdom is not infinite it is however based on logic. You are using a negative to prove something, the lack of attacks..yada yada yada means that Japan is safe. But it only takes one example to make your statement false, that example is found in the recent attacks and murders we now are discussing, never mind those before. So it matters little what happened before, today, now, they are targeting you. End of Story! But hey, never mind those nurses who were kidnapped by radical Islamist in 2004 the security contractor who was Japanese who was killed in 2005 the Japanese citizen who was killed in 2004 all by radical islamist. This was not the first attack on Japanese it was only the most recent and the most it has been in the local Japanese press for a decade. Go back to burying your head in the sand. I’m sure it will all work out for you in the end.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Yawn……Another Yank who can’t take someone, especially an Englishman, who dares to take you to task. What an inferiority complex you Americans have!

      • J. S. Hansenius

        You can tell Barry has no argument his hatred of american is the only thing he brings to the debate.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Always in denial my American friend…Now go and retrieve the teddy bear you flung across the room boy.

      • Mr_Amagi

        When police investigate a crime, they try to establish a motive. What is the motive for ISIS beheadings? You are the fool if you believe the re-warmed ‘they hate us for our freedoms’ that Bush was pushing and that you have re-worded. But we’ve all, most of us, been the fools. We bought into Saddam’s WMD that resulted in the US destruction of Iraq, a nation that did not threaten us. And guess what? Out of that destruction ISIS was formed, the evil love child of US intervention.

        ISIS at war with non-Muslims by beheading them one at a time? I think not. A very inefficient way to conduct a war. What’s the motive then? They get a lot of media publicity for every beheading, and it pays off for them in more recruits, especially after the military backlash from the US, and Japan, if they are stupid enough to do it.

        You need to think this through more. Unending intervention has only produced unending blowback and the prospect of unending Crusades for the next 1000 years. There must be a better approach than killing them. Why don’t we try getting off their land and leaving them alone? How much better the Middle East would be today if the US had never invaded Iraq? Mission not accomplished. We don’t need to fight any more losing wars in the Middle East.

      • Gordon Graham

        What prey tell does Indonesia have to do with the Middle East? What about Denmark or Sweden?

      • Concerned Citizen

        Excuse me, but anyone that tries to bring a former US President that has absolutely NOTHING to do with this article into the discussion is obviously trying to steer the conversation in a different direction.
        Mr_Amagi, you’re just a typical leftist… It is very obvious to me…
        The murder of a Japanese journalist is not just a common street crime – its an act of Terrorism that is designed to scare people. That is the purpose of Terrorism… You might want to try reading a book once in a while.

      • Mr_Amagi

        Whoa. I’m not on the left. I was only criticizing the two dimensional thinking we all bought into. I was referring to a line of thought attributed to Bush that has become embedded in how these events are viewed today. But, since you mention it, yes Bush is part of the discussion because US overreach under Bush in Iraq directly lead to the formation of ISIS. The ISIS that beheaded the Japanese journalist.

        You are code wording this murder as an act of terrorism in order to justify intervention. But it remains the murder of a single man. Unless he carries the rank Archduke, I see no reason why this should be the basis of a war.

        You who are so eager to go to war in Iraq yet again, send your children, and leave the rest of ours out of it.

      • Concerned Citizen

        You say that you are not on the left but yet you speak clearly in their leftist rhetoric. Only those who accept the main stream (which is dominated by the left) at face value
        would say that this “line of thought is attributed to Bush”.

        You are making reckless statements about Bush that have no factual credibility. Not to mention that Obama has been in Office for the last 6.5 years. At what point do
        you people stop blaming Bush and allow Obama to accept the blame for what he has done (or failed to do)?

        We do not “code word” anything. We choose to accurately label things what they are. Murdering a
        journalist in the name of your religious affiliation in order to force people to convert to islam and keep people from speaking out against your chosen religion IS IN FACT an act of terrorism. I am very sorry if you have a hard
        time dealing with this reality, but that is what it happening all over the world.

        The murder of a single man is precious and I am saddened that you obviously do not hold the same value on life as many others do… It was a symbolic act designed to instill fear in the minds of those who
        watch the video.

        And by the way… We do send our children to war (when needed), because we stand for what we feel is right. Sorry if that offends you.

      • Mr_Amagi

        Lots of us conservatives a very unhappy with what the Bush administration did to us. I think you have us confused with neocons.

      • Concerned Citizen

        So like I said before… When are you going to wake up and realize that Obama has caused most of the recent problems? Bush is long gone… But I guess that doesn’t matter to you. The list of scandals that has occurred in the Obama Administration is longer than any other President in US History!

      • Mr_Amagi

        But I don’t think you are looking at enough scandals. Dems and Reps function essentially as a one party system, except for a couple of hot button issues. It doesn’t matter what party has the White House, foreign intervention and military spending, regulations, taxes and entitlements, go up and up. The military is overstretched all over the world, the Fed is destroying the economy through virtual fiat currency, and all the while, we have less and less freedom despite the fact we are told our military are fighting and dying so we can have more. We have prostituted our values through torture, political assassination and covert regime change. Meanwhile political leaders of both parties strut and posture and receive contributions from the military-industrial complex. So don’t tell me to wake up, you’re asleep at the wheel. A plague on both your houses.

      • Concerned Citizen

        You simply cannot admit that Obama is the problem can you? It goes against every fiber in your body to admit the truth…

      • J. S. Hansenius

        First Who said anything about Bush? I never said they hate Japan or the US for “freedom” found in Japan or the US, whatever that means. Go back and reread my statement. I said ISIL is at war with those who do not share their non-radicalized ideas of islam….that includes modern polytheistic, pork eating Japan as much as modern and tolerate forms of Islam practiced in Jordan or Turkey. They don’t even consider the Japanese “people of the book”. So no, I think I’m spot on in my thinking, unlike the naive Japanese I’ve been in a war with these people for along time. I understand their goals and I’m not so stupid to think that they will keep to themselves if left alone. So instead of beating the drum about how Iraq was a bad war, it was, let’s see this for what it is, this is a terror state seeking to influential in a war that is predicated on their ideological beliefs centered around a radicalized version of their religion. In other words God is telling them to fight. It doesn’t matter you don’t see it that way, that’s what they believe. So you are not going to be left alone. You are not going to share a coke with them. You are naive to think that this is about Iraq or Bush or whatever. But you know, ISIL is not the only ideological forces at play. As you roll out the tired 2005 protest rhetoric you show yourself as being as motivated by ideology as they are. I’m only glad I”m in a state that takes ISIL seriously as a threat. Welcome to the world Japan, it’s been spinning on its axis while you were busy in the pachinko parlor.

      • Mr_Amagi

        You’re the one who used Bush era logic, not me, to quote: “ISIL is at war with non radicalized islamic culture,” AKA “they hate us for our freedoms.”

        You have not correctly understood the motive for the crime. They don’t hate us for our freedom or, as you put it, for not being a part of radicalized islamic culture. They hate us for our footprint. They hate us for occupation of their land.

        What they are doing is nothing less than what we would be doing to them or to anybody who tried to occupy our land.

        You need to get your head out of the propaganda national security war clouds that you were indoctrinated in. You may have been a grunt in the war, that doesn’t mean that you get the big picture what is happening. Your leaders have lied to you and the public, nobody has apologized for it, and there is no end in sight for these Crusades. The more we hit them, the more we radicalize them and the more they fight back. It’s called blowback.

      • J. S. Hansenius

        Man, you are naive…their land? So you cede ISIL the caliphate? Is that it? That’s what they are after, just a piece of land to be a peace on? come on don’t be so naive. Also, they are killing lots of Muslims in that area. Why? Because those Muslims are not the type of Muslims that they want in the Caliphate. This is not about terrorist want land its about a terror state that is war with the modern world. That’s their words, not mine. They don’t want to live and let live. The want the Caliphate to cover the world. They want the world submissive to their type of Islam. Man, you really need to get out of 2005, its 2015 now and things are different. This is not about Bush or bush era logic, as silly as that was. This is about opening your eyes to reality. ISIL is not seeking to be left alone.

      • Mr_Amagi

        What part of people will fight to defend their homeland don’t you understand?

        It doesn’t matter how much you spout off about how it isn’t “their” land, it doesn’t matter what you or I think, it only matters how they think, and how they interpret military action against them. Their own interpretation of intervention, not yours or mine, is what radicalizes their people and swells the ranks of the jihadists.

        As an example, consider the ineffectiveness of drone bombing in Yemen. As the Washington Post’s Sudarsan Raghavan reported in 2012, “In 2009, when President Obama was first known to have authorized a missile strike on Yemen, U.S. officials said there were no more than 300 core AQAP members. That number has grown in recent years to 700 or more.” Locals told Raghavan, “These attacks are making people say, ‘We believe now that al-Qaeda is on the right side.’” I’ve already point out the obvious rise of ISIS as blowback to US intervention.

        You subscribe to an unending interventionist philosophy that doesn’t allow you to even consider the possibility that the Islamists are motivated by military intervention on their lands, because if you even admitted that possibility, you might have to admit that in every way US action overseas is making the problem worse, not making us safer. That, I would submit, is the naive point of view; maybe you will be willing to let go of it after a few more tours in Iraq.

      • J. S. Hansenius

        No this is about your interpretation not theirs or mine but yours… You are making this about the USA and George Bush and Iraq when it is not. The ISIL members claim all of that area in that part of the world as being in the caliphate, with goals to expand it throughout the world. Their words, you say you respect their views, their views on this very subject prove you opinion as being wrong. You say they have a right to the land there….why? Because you have bought into an idea of ISIL as being the victims, even as they cut off heads on TV. You are blind by your own bias. Listen to their words, they are not at war with the US because of invasion but because they see the USA as evil, along with Japan and most of the modern world. Their goal are not territory but adherence to an extreme form of Islam. They get cover and support from people like you who never miss a chance to spout your up is down anti-western anti-US rhetoric. Anyway folk like will never take the treat seriously because you have Iraq to point to and Bush to bash up and until you have skin in the game you will sit back and spew your hate and excuse their barbarous murdering. So there is no point in carrying this any further. You can blame who you want. But only one group is cutting heads off…its not the USA.

      • Mr_Amagi

        People like you will be the end of the USA. You will all bring us to our knees with unsustainable unending foreign intervention. You will all bankrupt us. These ideas are realistic, they are not anti-western. You have assumed I am a liberal, but actually I am a conservative who voted for W both times. I love liberty. You, I think, hate it.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Ah, my American friend who can’t take criticism of his beloved country but can dish it out to others because he thinks as a Yank he can, like his country’s foreign policy. Lovely. Take a high dive in a low well and dry up will you. You ignorant man.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Bravo Amagi, that’s what I have been to drill into Mr. Propaganda American Sniper lover (aka J.S. Hansenius) for the last few days…….But he must have his FOX news and vote with the Republicans against that ‘Muslim’ Obama.

      • Mr_Amagi

        He’s screwed up. He’s trying to apply his battle-field indoctrination about what the enemy is to a broader foreign policy, with very bad results.

        It is his thinking that is actually aiding the enemy, because his unending intervention is the recruitment tool ISIS needs. It’s why they behead. But I’m preaching to the choir.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        I know, look at his irrational comments. The Guy is a typical small minded gutter Middle Bible Belt American who thinks automatically that any solution to a political problem is ‘wiping them out’ or ‘nuking them.’ And what is laughable is that he is so simple that he actually believes in it! Bloody Fool.

      • Concerned Citizen

        Do you see… There it is folks…
        That condescending, elitist, leftist, assumption that all “Middle Bible Belt American” people are stupid.
        It is that mentality that will soon be the end of the political left in America!

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Hansenius needs to ask himself a question; a salient pertinent question of why Islamic fundamentalism has risen dramatically since 2001….The American media have never asked themselves the question, just like Hansenius who just blindly accepts that its just terrorism like as if that came out of no-where. No you sot. It’s because of the free US intervention in the ME since 2001. And do you know why it never happened before? The Russians before their collapse acted as an effective counter to the Americans and were the Arabs champion. I address the incident concerning Kissinger and the proposed Soviet intervention in the 1973 war. Boy, did the US hightail out of that one with their tail between their legs. Right wing American politics finally won in 1981 and have committed this world to a darkness which, asswipes like yourself have tried to whitewash American savagery, which is inherently racist, and uneducated like a man named Hansenius.

    • Barry Rosenfeld

      A voice of reason…hear hear….

  • Charles Burns

    Awakens Japanese? The women is holding a sign saying “We don’t need military force.” She most likely speaks for the large majority of Japanese people who think they are sweet, innocent souls who walk in the same steps as Jesus or Muhammed. Japanese can freely go to Syria safely because they are not directly involved in the war against ISIS – that’s their logic. Same as they believe that there is a 0% chance of any terrorist attack happening in Japan because nobody wants to harm a country full of peaceful, kind, kawaii souls. WAKE UP JAPAN. You are probably an even more interesting target because all of your people are so complacent and lazy when it comes to world events and the hidden reality that Japanese blood is no more valuable then the rest of ours. Funny that Japanese have no problem letting Americans sacrifice their lives in defense of this cowardly nation, but when ISIS executes one of our citizens, there are no protests or memorials here in Japan. Pray for Japan – I think not.

    • Kiuri

      Excellent comment. But, people like the woman in the photo, “sweet and innocent” Japanese as you describe, are in fact just a loud, noisy minority (though quite a sizable one, yes). I believe a majority of Japanese in fact will agree with you. We’ll see the proof of it in the coming months, when Abe tries his constitutional revision to ditch the article 9.

  • on the other hand

    there are times I wonder why Karma takes so long.

    • Gordon Graham

      he wrote with delight while licking his lips

  • disqus_58aVR7S45y

    “Japan was incompetent” in negotiating with the Islamic State group, one high-ranking official said Tuesday in a markedly blunt assessment…What a ridiculous statement to make. All the countries which have had their citizens beheaded by these terrorists have been unable to “negotiate” with the Islamic State thugs. I think more people in Japan need to wake up to the reality of the world outside their little bubble of safety and come to grips with some harsh modern facts of life.Right wingism will not fix it, that’s like looking the other way. Like.. out of sight out of mind, one can see that attitude on any day right now in Japan. Xenophobia will not stop the home grown sympathiser who wants their 15 minutes of fame. These nutters are popping up all over the world now in all countries irrespective of nationality or ethnic origin. I fear it will not be long before something happens in Japan similar to France, Australia, UK and the US that will really serve as a wake up call.

    • Barry Rosenfeld

      You don’t read I see…..”All the countries which have had their citizens beheaded by these terrorists have been unable to “negotiate” with the Islamic State thugs. ”

      Get your facts right. The only countries that have had their citiznes beheaded with the exception of Japan are the US and their lackeys, the UK. All the other countries have paid ransom and they are for your benefit, France, Spain, Turkey and others. Indeed, Japan I am dead sure from the way they were conducting their talks in Jordan were prepared to pay ransom.

      So, think before you write Yank.

      • disqus_58aVR7S45y

        Who the hell do you think you are, just writing to insult and put down when you are too damn stupid to read yourself. First, I am not a “yank”, that is something I think you are doing all over this comments section. Second What facts do I have wrong jerk off. I CLEARLY state all the countries that have had their citizens beheaded, whether it is 2 or more…that is all. Do you understand English? And while you are welcome to your opinion on what you think Japan was “maybe” going to do…the obvious fact is that in the time they had to pay the ransom , they refused and tried to negotiate via Jordan. Jez..you really should learn to read yourself and take those meds, probably be a good idea to stay off the adult comment sections too!

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Not a Yank? Indeed. Then stop writing like an American and all that it inspires since you sound very much like one. Something not to proud of I am afraid. And since you claim not be one with your Americanised English then surely you must be a citizen of the 51st state above that glorious country. Now on to the facts:

        Who on earth are you to write this??

        “….the obvious fact is that in the time they had to pay the ransom , they refused and tried to negotiate via Jordan. Jez…

        I suppose your irrelevant person attended the Foreign Ministry meetings and shuttled back and forth between Tokyo and Jordan and met the King himself as well.

        Now stop being so indignant when shown up up what a hopeless reader of the English language you have indicated yourself to be and kindly comment on what you know and rather than what you ‘think’ had happened, if you can, Yank.

        PS Like your picture; speaks volumes of your character.

      • Guest

        Your bias Barry against the US is almost as strong as those found amoung ISIL members…I wonder. No, of course not, you are just a naive type who in this post-modernist age has decided that the big bad USA is to blame no-matter-what. So never mind the barbarous thugs who just cut the head off of Mr. Goto…no its the USA fault! You have anti-America syndrome…I recomend a week on in the reality of planet earth to

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Hello Yank. Can’t stand that I’m bashing your stupidly hopeless country can you? Go home to your Fox News you uneducated twit.

      • J. S. Hansenius

        Barry you mark yourself as just another shallow anti-American suffering from American Derangement Syndrome.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        I was not addressing you. And since you have taken it upon yourself to defend your moronic sick country, take a hike will you? You’re getting boring.

      • Stoptheplanet

        you wouldn’t a fact if it jumped up and bit you on the arse, and stuff you you I will write however I like to…I think you are just a troll, so don’t bother commenting to me again as I’m neither going to read or comment back. Just to show how screwed up your “facts”are you are on the wrong side of the planet when you talk about where I come from. Bye moron.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Like Palov’s dog, frothing at the mouth….In your amazingly coherent English, what on earth did your poor excuse of attempting to write like an Englishman come to? Stay uneducated you fool.

      • Concerned Citizen

        As previously stated: People like Barry Rosenfeld are the reason we left England and then defeated them when they tried to come to the US and tax us…
        What a dull boring person you must be Barry…
        You don’t get invited to many parties do you?

      • J. S. Hansenius

        Never miss a chance to bash the USA eh Barry? This is not about the USA its bout Japan having to face the real fact that out there in the wide world are some very nasty people who want nothing more than the destruction of Japan. But hey, why talk about the murders who are killing Japanese when you can do what you like to do best and bash the USA.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Are you quite finished? You’re incoherent and ignorant remarks on ISIS and this hostage situation does not warrant a proper reply to someone of your ilk. You’re a typical Yank that has to have his say heard and bash all others that do not agree with you. What a 15 year old you are.

      • J. S. Hansenius

        Seems you’re the one who is needing to have his say and it seems your say is nothing more than vile anti-Americanism. However sick your mind may be remember this, ISIL would target you, with all of your anti-western/anti-American attitudes, just as quickly as they would target an American. You can think that your safe and different that the evil imperialist yanks but to ISIL you are exactly the same. They just don’t care if you are soft heart, limp-wrested liberal or a post-modernist corporate oriented western conservative…they are after both

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Americans are far by the most stupidest people I have met on the planet. You people have no critical thinking skills, accept at face value anything instead of reading it for yourself and lastly, never learn your history. As Amagi said, you stupidly can’t seem to grasp you Yanks have invaded the ME and taht they want you out. Because you don’t accept my views and attack me like your small minded idiotic nation, you get angry. Yes, like the Vietnamese, they shall see you off in Syria as well as they had in Afghanistan and Iraq. My sick mind has spoken my uneducated middle American friend who’s a blatant white trash racist.

  • A.J. Sutter

    One aspect I haven’t seen reported in the press, especially the English-language press, is that many Japanese online commenters thought Goto-san was stupid for going into ISIS-held territory, and creating a diplomatic mess for another country (Jordan). That’s certainly the overwhelming opinion of the people my wife and I know here in Tokyo, too. Goto-san apparently ignored advice from Syrian officials against what he was doing; his death was his own responsibility. The same was true, to an even greater degree, in the perception of Yukawa-san. The Jordanian pilot, on the other hand, had a lot of sympathy from the same Japanese commenters — he was caught in performance of his duty.

    While this incident will no doubt be used as a pretext for Abe’s pushing through laws that loosen the reins on Japan’s projection of military power abroad, that’s because he has the parliamentary votes to do so, not necessarily popular support. A much simpler solution, also proposed by online commenters, would be to make it more difficult for Japanese to get to these countries to begin with. If they are desperate to do so anyway, we should wash our hands of them. Otherwise every deluded individual who believes that he or she personally holds the key to world peace will be contributing to its exact opposite.

    One last point is the ridiculousness of this incident as a justification for sending the SDF on rescue missions. Even the US doesn’t attempt rescues of Americans held by ISIS. Nor do the Israelis. If these very competent military organisations with long experience of desert tactics don’t risk it, how does Japan expect to succeed? Beginner’s luck?

    • The US and Israel conducts rescue missions all the time. You just don’t hear or read about it until something goes wrong, which it did last month in Yemen. Like it or not, Japan need to do away with Article 9. Other wise, Japan’s constitution is nothing more than a suicide pact.

      Mark my words on this one, the Chinese are shutting down the Internet in China in the coming months, starting with emails services they have no control over like Google, Outlook, etc. The chinese are going to attack Senkaku Islands by end of year. This is something the U.S. 7th fleet commander has inadvertently discussed last summer at a Naval conference in DC.

      • A.J. Sutter

        My comment about rescue missions was in the context of ISIS. They didn’t try to rescue James Foley or Peter Kassig, nor Steven Sotloff, who held dual US-Israeli citizenship. Or if they tried, they sure didn’t succeed. As for marking your words, please mark those of the Japanese constitution. Protecting the Senkaku Islands is already covered: it’s self-defence. No need to ditch Article 9 for that one.

    • Barry Rosenfeld

      One of the best commentaries I have read here. Good for you.

    • Kiuri

      I understand US tried a rescue mission but failed.

      In any case, could you give me one good reason why the US shouldn’t try sending such a mission to rescue prisoners? In fact, given the U.S, policy never to negotiate with terrorists or ransom hostages, rescue missions is the only option left to the U.S. Is it not?

      By extension, Japan (or any other country) likewise has every reason to wish to send SDF (or equivalent) for such missions, assuming it is capable. What is your objections to that? Or are you for paying the ransom every time?

      • A.J. Sutter

        Thanks for your question. There are several points in it worthy of a response.

        (a) To set the context at the outset, let me mention that I support the interpretation that Article 9 should allow rescue of Japanese abroad, and I support in principle the notion that Article 9 itself might benefit from being amended to clarify that certain SDF activities are allowed. But even if action is allowed, it can be a very stupid idea, or worse, to go ahead and take it.

        (b) I didn’t express, nor do I hold, any opinion about whether the US should or should not try a rescue in a particular case. My point was more that the US has much more experience fighting in the desert than does Japan. The fact that the Foley mission failed only underscores the difficulties that would face Japan in such a case.

        (c) This same point applies to your comment, “assuming it is capable”: That’s a big assumption, which isn’t justified in the circumstances of this case. It might be a different story if a Japanese tourist were taken hostage by Islamic militants on an island in the Philippines or Malaysia — Japanese forces have much more experience operating in that sort of environment.

        (d) “SDF (or equivalent)”: Your parenthetical doesn’t have any referent. That is, there is just the SDF. That is the nub of the constitutional issue facing Japan.

        (e) Further to (d), many here feel that the possibility of future hostage situations is not a sufficient reason to tinker with Article 9. It’s also well-understood that the Abe Administration would like precisely to use it as a pretext to tinker with Article 9, because there are many other such tinkerings it would like to accomplish at the same time. I.e., people can see that the hostage issue is a kind of tatemae for something potentially more dangerous.

        Abe has stated that he knew about Yukawa-san’s hostage situation since last autumn, long before the election; there is also a news story that he asked Goto-san’s wife to stay quiet about her husband’s plight until after the election. People certainly can’t be blamed for thinking that these events are being manipulated for Abe’s much larger constitutional ambitions.

        (f) In addition to rescue missions and paying ransom, there are several other options: (1) Make it more difficult for people to go to these places from Japan. I’ve heard some claims that there are constitutional limitations to this, though I haven’t yet looked into that argument. (2) If people go to these places despite government warnings, prosecute them criminally upon their return to Japan. This would require new legislation, I believe. (3) And/or, if people go to these places despite government warnings, let them die.

        Different responses might be justified in different cases. Some people might be worth a ransom. In some situations, such as the Philippine case mentioned above, a military response might have a good chance of success. In other cases, such as people who don’t have any good reason to be in a danger zone other than their own heroic self-image, or their desire to get attention, we should allow them to pay the consequences of their own recklessness.

        Personally, I would place Goto-san in this last category; so do many other people here. The press don’t publicise this sour opinion (e.g., the BBC fantasises that Japanese are filled with shock and grief) because “He’s a journalist!” — even though his mission had nothing to do with journalism.

        (g) In sum, there are many layers of selfishness that are being whitewashed via the media spin that’s being given to this incident: Goto-san’s selfishness in thinking he could single-handedly save someone from ISIS, Abe-san’s selfishness in trying to exploit this incident for his larger political agenda, and the press’s selfishness in turning Goto-san into a martyr for journalism. All of these are good reasons for thinking through the response to this incident carefully, instead of breathing in the jingoistic halitosis that so often pollutes the atmosphere in cases like this.

      • Kiuri

        Let me just enumerate my points rather than respond to yours one by one.

        (1) I believe SDF should be made equivalent to the military of any other country. Give me one good reason why it should not be. (The article 9 should be rewritten accordingly, of course)

        (2) Every military (including the SDF) worthy of its name should *aspire* to be capable of handling hostage situations like this one. The fact that many such rescue missions are very difficult doesn’t affect that proposition.

        (3) Abe has set his mind since long ago on revising the constitution. He doesn’t need any excuse. I personally have zero interest in any fanciful and tiresome theory that he is trying to “exploit” the hostage crisis for his agenda.

        (4) I agree with you regarding Goto’s responsibility in ignoring all the warnings and entering the danger zone. But, any blameless Japanese tourist traveling in Europe, for example, can be kidnapped by a terrorist group and held hostage for ransom. So, prohibiting people going into danger zone doesn’t fundamentally solve the problem.

      • A.J. Sutter

        In reverse order:

        (4) I don’t have any problem with helping blameless tourists in distress, either. That is clear from my comment.

        (3) The issue isn’t Abe’s psychology, it’s that he is looking for ways to manipulate public sentiment so that he can more easily turn his intentions into action. The notion that he is exploiting the incident is a current widespread perception in Japan, quite orthogonal to your personal lack of interest. In politics, perception is reality.

        (2) As previously stated several times, I support the possibility of rescues by the SDF under the right circumstances. Perhaps your personal lack of interest extends to what other people say…

        (1) A very good reason would be if most Japanese citizens would not want it to be so equivalent. Whether they do or not is still an open question. In my constitutional law classes that I teach at a university here in Japan, for example, I find many students (now voters) have a very strong emotional attachment to Article 9.

        Another reason, often ignored in constitutional discourse in Japan, is that the country isn’t really a democracy (a topic too large to debate in this thread). For example, during the past 60 years, only the Chinese Communist Party has been in power longer than the LDP; and the Japan Supreme Court has upheld every limitation on free speech passed by the Diet. A constitutional enhancement of the role of the military without other changes enhancing democracy in Japan (rather than further limiting it, as the LDP 2012 draft proposes) could create a very dangerous situation reminiscent of the 1930s, when PM Abe’s grandfather was a Cabinet Minister. Perhaps that’s desirable if you’re an ultra-nationalist, but not if you’re an ordinary resident of this country. (Are you, BTW? or are you safely outside somewhere, pontificating about what’s good for Japan while insulated from the consequences if your advice is taken?)

        Another reason builds on that last one: if there is a perception that Japan is returning to its totalitarian period, that will create tensions in the region that could accelerate war with any of Japan’s neighbours. Cf. above about perception and reality. That wouldn’t be desirable for the people of Japan, for its neighbors, or for the US, who could get pulled into a conflict.

        Ultimately, it very well could be that Japan can live peacefully while having a military like other countries’. But it needs the statesmanship and democratic safeguards to manage that properly, as well as popular acceptance. None of those exist yet. And the current media show isn’t a constructive contribution toward bringing any of them into being.

      • Kiuri

        Re Abe “exploiting” the hostage crisis. The fact that many in media or even academia are trying to perpetuate such “perception” doesn’t make it any less wrong or less disgusting. Of course the crisis has renewed and strengthened Abe’s determination to push through his constitutional revision and he openly and publicly expressed such resolve. Describing it as him trying to “exploit” the situation is nothing but malicious misrepresentation.

        So your students have “emotional attachment” to article 9 but are yet to form any informed opinion on the matter. That’s about what I would expect. But I guess it’s your duty as a teacher to make them see the reality and change their views. In any case we will see the verdict when Abe puts his constitutional revision to referendum.

        Japan is a robust democracy, period. That Japan could revert to totalitarian regime (or even that it can’t handle having a normal military!?) is utterly ridiculous and nothing less than an insult to the nation and people.

        If you have to know, I am a Japanese citizen living abroad presently, but who will likely repatriate eventually.

      • A.J. Sutter

        If you believe it is my duty as a teacher to change my students’ views about specific political issues, that just goes to show that the threat of totalitarianism is very real. Your intolerance for any opinion at variance with your own and resort to spluttering assertion, along with accusations of malice and insult, also support the point. Those who don’t appreciate how to conduct a democratic debate will be insensitive to the loss of democracy.

      • Kiuri

        What a tiresome person you are. Obviously it was a sarcastic comment about your teaching, as it should be obvious to you.

        Remember that it was you who started throwing insulting comments at Japan and the Japanese. I am happy to agree with you that continuing this conversation further is a waste of time. I just hope you stop corrupting Japanese youth with your weird theory of democracy. Good bye.

  • J. S. Hansenius

    The ISIL have picked a ripe target in these murders as Japan is going to have a large contingent population that thinks that this is about relations with the US.. This will feed into the already existing anti-US sentiment and will be used as a means of opposing any change to Japanese policy in regards to its SDF. Likewise being able to create internal friction so easily the ISIL thugs will now seek out Japanese to victimize. The only thing that should be done, something hard to do in any modern state, is to mute reaction and redouble effort to kill those in ISIL. There is no room for negotiation in the mind of the fanatic. Japan must fully join the war against terrorist groups if it hopes to keep its people safe.

  • This article is utter nonsense. Negotiating with these terrorists is a fool errand. There’s nothing Japan or anyone could do because these journalists were dead already. The terrorists had no intention other than to kill them. ten years ago, even Osama would have invited journalists to his cave and have a chat, that because they needed the media to carry out their message. Today, these terrorists have their own media and PR machine to push their message.

    If Japan really want to do some thing dealing with this in the future, Japan need to removes Article 9, rearmed and beef up their military.

    It’s typical for Japanese politicians to go wobbly when something like this happens. It’s not like Japan is immuned to terrorism. Look at the damn NK.

    • Concerned Citizen

      To: China Sucks TV™ – I would have to agree with you on this…

      Trust me when I tell you that China and NK without a doubt want Japan to
      continue to be a weak and fragile country. Leftist countries are well known to
      use Terrorism as a weapon: “Terrorism is an arm the revolution can never
      relinquish” from the Mini-manual of Guerilla Warfare.

      Vladimir Lenin is also well known to have said: “We can’t expect to get
      anywhere unless we resort to terrorism”

  • timefox

    The result which supported 9 articles of constitution. I don’t need the means of the self-defense. An ordinary silly person. ISIL has caused terrorism this time. But the group which causes terrorism in Japan in 2015 is also besides this. The police and Japan Self-Defense Forces have advanced preparations to that, but it’s better for the general public to do a life conscious of terrorism, too.

    Don’t you need the force? Are you terrorist’s supporter?

    It’s only you that you don’t need the force. Others aren’t involved!

    • It is really, really hard to understand what you are writing here.

    • Paul Johnny Lynn

      Please timefox, hire a professional translator.

  • JimmyJM

    Most likely, the pilot is already dead. ISIL could not give the “proof of life” that Jordan wanted. ISIL knew that without him, the female prisoner they wanted would not be freed. So killing Mr. Goto was a publicity stunt to gain the notoriety they crave. Look at all the publicity ISIL has received from these deeds. Obviously keeping prisoners is a drain on ISIL resources (relocating them every few days is difficult when satellites and drones are watching. So murdering the two Japanese was logical. Then the “message to Japan” was to stop supporting the coalitions that are destroying ISIL or your “nightmare” will continue. And it will in any case.

  • Intellectualist

    Connect the dots. Which country is next on the list to be rid of its gladio remnants? Isn’t that the same one Abe was visiting? Once you create these terrorists they don’t like to retire. Don’t do what Israel asks under any circumstances. They can’t be dealt with until Netanyahu is gone.

    • Barry Rosenfeld

      Abe the idiot going totally against his people, has brought this mayhem upon himself and now has involved Japan I fear in an action that it will greatly regret which its now feeling. Indeed, I think the man is toast and will lose the confidence of his party soon.

      • 武 東郷

        I thought that Barry Rosenfeld was an alias for David McNeill. My mistake. Oops.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Indeed Togo Takeshi. I am not. Did you write to him? I know him well.

  • Gordon Graham

    Crisis awakens Japanese to the dangers of Islam

    • Barry Rosenfeld

      That world has awaken to the drivel of Gordon Graham and his unemployed days…..

      • J. S. Hansenius

        The world is sick of shallow anti-Americanism feigning as wit.

      • Gordon Graham

        If your intention is to identify yourself as someone who makes knee jerk comments on things they know nothing about, then congratulations

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        My Dear Graham, my greetings in reply to your equally uneducated friends in the armpit of your mutual admiration society. Your remarkable comment on the supposed dangers of Islam certainly elicited my interest. Indeed, your very irrelevancy is noted. Just keep it up white trash and I’ll keep on responding in kind. Good day to you.

  • achakma

    Japan being far flung from Muslim world, her people and government have scant knowledge about the evils of Muslim world. Japanese people like Kenji Goto are naive to believe that just because they show the suffering of children and refugees in Muslim world they can bring peace to world. Why bother when bad guy fight another bad guy? Why bother when children and refugees of Muslim world suffer? One day those “innocent’ looking children will be terrorists because of their religion.

  • Robert A Dorrough

    In the early 13th century Genghis Khan sent three emissaries, two Moguls and a Muslim to the Khwarezmian dynasty in what is now Syria and northern Iraq. The Shah or king beheaded the Muslim and sent the head back to Genghis Khan. The Mongol response was swift and brutal even by their standards. The entire habitants were put to the sword and slaughtered, their cities razed, nothing left but pyramids of severed heads. To think something like this cannot happen again because of our technological advances is foolish. Humans are still capable of the most horrid atrocities. The beheading of Kenji Goto is but one example. ISIL thinks they are fighting a religious war. The truth is they are only trying to start one. We have collectively forgotten what war is really like, and as the value of life is lessened, genocide becomes more likely. If or when the religious war begins in earnest, all the Muslims in the world will curse ISIL and extremist Muslims for bringing it on their heads. This will end, but it will not end well.