ROBERT DYLAN FIELDS WRITES- Since its partial takeover of Iraq and Syria in the summer of 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS, has committed various acts of barbarism, including a series of live beheadings of international hostages. Most recent were the deaths of two Japanese, freelance war journalist Kenji Goto and his associate Haruna Yukawa.
Following the Japanese government’s refusal to comply with the terrorists’ ransom of $200 million and the release of attempted suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi, ISIS released footage of the executed hostages via social media outlets like Instagram.
Japan’s National Diet has since condemned ISIS’s actions, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressing how they were “deeply saddened by this despicable and horrendous act of terrorism, and [that they] denounce it in the strongest terms.” Abe has since called for further debate within the Diet as to whether Japan should go to war with ISIS and amend Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, which prohibits Japan’s sovereign right to war.
This article explains that Japan has not given up its right of self-defense since it legally allows the country to establish its own highly trained and technologically advanced national guard, the Japanese Self Defense Force. The Diet has also debated the notion of “collective self-defense” and whether Japan could send its troops to backup any allied nation engaged in battle. Abe noted that “Only 30 percent of the people support enabling the right to use force for collective self-defense,” yet he feels that this percentage could rise in response to this tragedy.
Meanwhile, Japanese citizens nationwide are protesting publicly and on social media platforms, trending the phrase “I AM KENJI.” Others are blaming Abe for his campaign to contribute $200 million towards combating ISIS (the same price that ISIS demanded).
Both the Japanese media and ordinary citizens have refused to broadcast the footage of Goto’s murder. Instead, they’re honoring his memory by promoting Goto’s humanitarian work in Syria and his seminars on the affects of concerns in the Middle East on the lives of its citizens.
Goto’s older brother Junichi noted that he “wish[ed] Kenji was able to come home and thank every one himself, and [he is] most aggrieved this is not to be. [He is] proud of Kenji’s professional achievements, but, as his brother, [he]think[s] this time his actions were careless.” Junichi’s response was praised for being both dignified and noble.
King Abdullah II of Jordan has already declared total war on ISIS in response to the gruesome murder of Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh. Whether Japan will follow is currently unclear.