A pacifist reporter KENJI GOTO beheaded by Islamists in January, 2015
My sister in Tokyo was furious in her recent email about the brutal execution of two Japanese men by ISIS. Of course, she did not spare any word in condemnation of the ISIS. However, an interesting thing about it is a double-edge nature of her anger. She is more angry with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was using the brutal death of those men to stir up public opinion urging them to accept a more advanced role of the Japanese military in alliance with the West, particularly with the U.S.
Mr. Goto was a member of an United Church in Japan, my sister’s neighbouring church, whose pacifist stand was well known. The United Church of Christ in Japan has been working hard for a long time, albeit an almost lost cause, for protection of the Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution which prohibits Japanese military involvement in a war other than for self defence. It therefore can not participate in the conflict in a third country even with an alliance partner like the U.S. The Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is a right leaning conservative who want to militarize the country by amending the Constitution, which requires a two-third majority in the Lower House. He didn’t get it at the last election. So the propaganda war is fierce. What is lost is that the Constitution was drafted by the U.S. occupation force.
Kenji Goto, a well-known war correspondent, quite naively believing that Japan was still accepted as non-alliance country, went to Syria to negotiate the release of another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa. He didn’t realize that Mr. Abe’s hawkish pronouncements in support of the American led coalition had already been known and changed the mind of the ISIS leadership about Japan. By the way, Mr. Abe represents the segment of the population on the right which denies the culpability of Japanese Imperial Army in the Nanjing massacre and rape, kidnapping of thousands of Korean women as sex slaves, and other war crimes during the Second World War. If denying Holocaust is a crime here, why in Japan the Prime Minister gets away denying war crimes?. I don’t understand the double standard.
It is a tragic irony that the death of the pacifist correspondent is used by a warmongering politicians to advance the cause of militarization. Of course, the brutality of ISIS is despicable. But shouldn’t Prime Minister Abe also take some responsibility in Kenji Goto’s death?