Japan, land of the rising Sun, has woken up on Sunday morning to the news of the death of Kenji Goto, whose killing was shown in a video released by Islamic State militants, far away in Iraq.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan “would not give in to terrorism” and that he would expand his support to countries fighting IS, which has cited Japanese aid as a reason for the hostage taking and refusal of ransom to killing them.
The news which broke out on Twitter forced many Japanese to bring out special editions about the saga of terrorist threat world over. The reaction was that of grief, anger, commiseration in Japan and its admirers all over the globe. But Japan was always a target of extortion, which it succumbed to initially but cannot sustain for long as the latest beheading shows.
Kenji Goto, who has excelled in reporting on the lives of ordinary people caught in the crossfire, himself became a target for similar reportage. The second death of a Japanese hostage triggers similar attacks on innocent Japanese all over the world in the last three decades.
In 1997, Peru’s Topac Amaru terrorists attacked the Japanese embassy taking 72 hostages for over 4 months when Japanese-origin Alberto Fujimori was its the President. Japan silently expressed its suffering with the TV channels focusing a camera on the embassy throughout.It was only in april 1997 that Fujimori had sent armed forces to storm the building and free all the hostages except one.
Prior to that Japan’s exposure to global terrorism was seen first hand when two cargo handlers were killed at Tokyo airport due to a bomb explosion in baggage, on the same day when another Sikh bomb exploded in an Air Canada aircraft en route to India over the Atlantic in 1985, killing all 329 people aboard. Both Sikh and Kashmiri terrorists were blamed for the attack.
Soon after the Peru incident, two of Japanese tourists were killed in Egypt among 58 others, on November 17, 1997.
A car bombing in Pakistan on June 14, 2002 at the Marriott Hotel in Karachi left behind one Japanese citizen killed among 11 victims in the terrorist attack suspected on al Qaida and al-Qanin.
In the same year, two of its citizens were wounded in a bombing attack at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel in which 9 persons were killed and 87 The Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) claimed responsibility. Attacks on Other Coalition Personnel in Iraq on November 29-30, 2003 next year left two Japanese diplomats in Tikrit killed.
So, what should Japan do?
It is easy to surmise that Japanese are not prepared to face terrorist threats. But more than that the Japanese government should know that it can no longer succumb to ransom threats but face terrorists headlong, fi required.
The global scenario is larger now. Japan should partner with the world governments in fighting terrorists in every corner instead of paying ransom on individual cases, which will only embolden the terrorists further to target the Japanese.