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3 Japanese Hostages in Iraq - HUGE news in Japan

Mandylion

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Three Japanese nationals are being held hostage in Iraq by a group called the "Mujahedeen Brigades." The group is demanding the Japanese SDF forces leave Iraq within three days or they will kill the hostages.

From Mainichi Daily News

Qatar-based satellite broadcaster Aljazeera said Thursday that three Japanese nationals have been taken hostage by a group in Iraq.

The group, who calls itself "Mujahedeen Brigades" in English, threatens to kill the three Japanese unless Japan's Self Defense Forces (SDF) leave the country within three days, Aljazeera said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said, "We are sending the SDF for (non-military) humanitarian reconstruction efforts, and therefore there is no reason to call them back."

Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said that Japan would do its utmost to ensure the release of the three.

"You have two choices. To withdraw the troops, or we will burn them alive," the group, Saraya al-Mujahedeen, said in a letter sent to Aljazeera.

In Tokyo, shocked government and police officials are investigating details through the Japanese Embassy in Baghdad.

"The information we have is awfully vague. We assumed that if any Japanese was to be attacked, it would be SDF troops," a Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity. "But we face a worst scenario with civilians being taken hostage. At this stage, we don't understand what kind of group detained them."
This is a huge story in Japan (and rightly so). It has even made the morning tabloid news, usual reserved for gossip and love stories. I have seen the TV footage and I assure you the hostages are very real and not some stunt.

The political and social fall-out is nothing short of astounding. If Koizumi sticks to his guns and the hostages are killed, the SDF will not touch foreign soil again for another 20 years IMHO. If they pull the SDF out, any terrorist group with half a brain will know they can get the Japanese government to cave in by attacking the weakest and most helpless of its citizens (in this case humanitarian workers).

If the three die, I expect we could see only the second handover in political power in Japan since the end of WWII. If they pull out, Japan will continue to be on the outskirts of world power politics and a soft target for terrorists. I don't see how this could do anything but make Japan even more xenophobic and warry of any foreign person not blonde and blue-eyed.

And the deadline of three days? It took the SDF weeks to get set up even after getting to Iraq. How are they going to get out in three days? The demands are so strict it will me near impossible to meet them if that is what the government decides to do.

I don't know about you all, but the only solution I see is to try and bust them out. But then the group expects that (unreasonable time limit) and will be ready - if they can find them.

This is going to be a very nasty lesson for Japan about the current way IR is played.
 

Keiichi

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I saw the news an hour ago. Quite unfortunate, like bullies picking on a weakling. I suppose they could bust them out, but how would they do that? They certainly won't be able to do it themselves that's for sure. I think they'll have to pull out...
 

Mandylion

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They would need the US to do it for them and who knows how high on the to-do list that would be...I guess it all comes back to the should you negotiate with terrorist debate? Experience says no, but I don't know how that would go down with the Japanese public...
 

Maciamo

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More from the BBC : Iraq plunges into hostage drama

Elsewhere, one Canadian and an Arab Israeli were also kidnapped, but seven abducted South Koreans were released.
That is a good proof that they were aiming at Japanese, mistook the Koreans for Japanese, then released them.

The three are believed to be Noriaki Imai, an 18-year-old male volunteer worker, Nahoko Takato, 34, a female volunteer worker, and Soichiro Koriyama, a 32-year-old male freelance photojournalist.
18 year-old volunteer ? Frankly, could their be any worst target ? :(

It seems clear to me that they are targetting civilians of the US and UK allies, as they know most of them have joined the war half-reluctantly and that kind of events could easily shift the balance. That is why they bombed the train in Madrid, and it worked. Now it's Japan, then who ? They haven't attacked the US and UK (yet) because they know it won't deter them and risk even more retaliations.

Tokyo has said it is firm in its resolve to keep troops in Iraq despite the threat.
Here is the first answer to Mandylion's question.
 

Mandylion

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Ah, they say that now, but wait until things get down to the wire. Does Tokyo really think the Japanese public is willing to take the murder of three non-SDF folks for a cause they really didn't support to begin with?

Of course things could go the other way and this might serve to strengthen the resolve of the public to support future missions. It all comes down to how NHK spins this one.
 

Jean-Francois

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Osama Bin Laden is no ordinary hot-headed terrorist. Indeed, despite the heinous crimes he commits, Osama Bin Laden possesses all the elements of an outstanding commander. He is intrepid, mercurial, calculative and manipulative. And most important, he knows his enemies very well. He is using the mechanics of a democracy to win this war.

The scene of the mulilated American bodies dragged along on the Iraqi streets is just too heart-broken for the Americans to watch. Terrorist attacks in the lands of the American allies caused second-thoughts even in the hearts of pro-American habitants.

The killing of the Japanese hostages will arouse anti-American feelings among the Japanese public who will put pressure on their government to back out from the war against terrorists. Even though it's not up to the J-government to back out, the disapproval form J-people is enough to destroy the morale of SDF and causes conflicts among the two governments.

Osama Bin Laden is using the voting power of the Americans and the citizens of its allies to win this war.

In The Art of War, Sun Tze said:
The strategy of superior commanders is to thwart a large organization so that they cannot grow and to inspire awe among their opponents so that they do not unify.
 

Mandylion

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Couldn't the opposite happen? You piss a group of people off enough and they are known to do stupid things to get back at you. Countries with long histories of dealing with terrorists tend to take very violent paths to secure their safety. I think it would take a lot for Japan to begin hitting back - perhaps an attack or two within Japan itself - but don't sell the Japanese public short by making them out to be pushovers.
 

Jean-Francois

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The opposite might happen but it is not likely. We will see.

Has the Al Qaeda network ever attacked the land of France and Japan? They are just threatening them from being as dedicated to the war as the Americans. When Americans asked the other allies to fight with them, most countries hesitated except England.

However, if US is winning the war, Al Qaeda may decide to go down together and attacks as many westernized countries as they can.

Great leaders know how to deal with the conflict of interests, whom they can piss off and how far they can go. We are dealing with one dangerous man with a brilliant mind here. 😲
 
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senseiman

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There isn't any evidence that Osama Bin Ladin or Al Qauida had anything to do with the abduction of the Japanese. Its some new group nobody has ever heard of. Maybe they are related to Al Qauida in some way but nobody knows.

I don't think the Koreans were mistaken for Japanese. After all, Korea has more troops in Iraq than Japan so you would think they would have made even better victims than the Japanese from the kidnappers point of view. I think it may have been a different group that kidnapped the Koreans.

Feel sorry for the victims though, especially the 18 year old. Barely out of high school and there he is in Iraq with some nutball threatening to burn him alive in 3 days.

As for the SDF getting out of Iraq in 3 days, I think the hostage-takers were only demanding that Japan announce its withdrawal from Iraq within 3 days, with the withdrawal itself to take however long it takes.
 

Mandylion

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The road to hell is paved with (good) intentions.

If that is all they want, what is stopping the SDF from saying it will leave, getting the three people back, and then staying? You might be right Senseiman, newspapers often leave out little things like that. But then what do the terrorists do? Hold on to the hostages for the three or so weeks it would take for a full withdraw knowing that people are out looking to catch them all that time? Far too risky. I think they meant three days, all or nothing.
 

neko_girl22

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apparently these volunteers were documenting the damage US troops have made in Iraq... so it's quite ironic they pick up these guys instead of some of the SDF. Anyway my heart goes out to the families, especially for the 18 year old :(
 

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Just read the papers, quite shocking indeed. But no bolt out of the blue. You cannot send troops into a conflict area and insist on their "humanitarian mission" a la Koizumi & consorts.

I also agree with Senseiman that this groups are most likely genuine Iraqi resistance movements with no connection to the so-called "Al-Qaida" movement.
 

senseiman

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Mandylion said:
The road to hell is paved with (good) intentions.

If that is all they want, what is stopping the SDF from saying it will leave, getting the three people back, and then staying? You might be right Senseiman, newspapers often leave out little things like that. But then what do the terrorists do? Hold on to the hostages for the three or so weeks it would take for a full withdraw knowing that people are out looking to catch them all that time? Far too risky. I think they meant three days, all or nothing.
Thats an interesting point, though the Reuters report I read mentioned that they were calling on Japan to announce its withdrawal within 3 days. If you think about it I don't think it would be particularly hard for them to hide the 3 people for a month or so. After all, they had thousands of troops scouring the country for Saddam and he managed to hide out for over 8 months and about a dozen of his top guys are still out there. Plus all the coalition troops are busy fighting the insurgency at the moment and won't have as many resources to devote to a manhunt. Some of the cities like Najaf, Kut and Fallujah are completely out of the control of the Americans.

Besides, if you think about it once they make the announcement the political damage will have been done whether they decide to stay or not. Thats whats really at stake, the government not being seen to cave in to terrorist demands.
 

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:( God richly blessed that three innocent Japanese!! and cursed Mujahedeen Brigades!!! Does anyone think Koizumi Administration will make a withdrawal from Mesopotamia region? This is really a big trouble for Koizumi and Bush~~~
 
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alaba

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Breaking News: The three Japanese hostages will be released

Breaking News from AlJazeera

Iraqi group to free Japanese hostages

Saturday 10 April 2004, 22:22 Makka Time, 19:22 GMT

The group has threatened to burn the hostages alive


An Iraqi group which said it kidnapped three Japanese hostages has said it will release them within 24 hours, abandoning a threat to kill them.

In a fax sent to Aljazeera on Saturday, the group, Saraya al-Mujahidin said they will release the hostages in response to a call from Iraq's Muslim Clerics Association.

The group also called on the Japanese people to pressure their government to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

Aljazeera on Thursday aired a tape from the group showing the hostages in capture. The group earlier threatened to burn alive Noriaki Imai, 18; Soichiro Koriyama, 32; Nahoko Tokato, 34, if Japan did not withdraw troops from Iraq by a deadline on Sunday.

Imai graduated from high school last month. He is a member of the Campaign to Abolish Depleted Uranium and travelled to Iraq on 1 April to study the effects of depleted uranium on Iraqi children.

Koriyama is a former soldier turned freelance photojournalist.

Takato, is an aid worker and peace activist. She travelled to Iraq in April 2003, after US and British tanks entered Baghdad


Alaba
 

silver angel

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30 minutes ago, update (New Zealand time)

Japanese hostages to be released - Arab TV
11 April 2004

UPDATED REPORT
DUBAI: An Iraqi group which said it kidnapped three Japanese hostages has said it will release them within 24 hours, abandoning a threat to kill them, Arabic television station Al Jazeera said today.


"They will release them in 24 hours in response to a call from the Muslim Clerics Association," Al Jazeera said, referring to a body of Iraqi religious scholars.

An Al Jazeera spokesman said the Qatar-based channel received the information in a fax from the group called Saraya al-Mujahideen, which said on Thursday in a tape that it would kill the Japanese if Japan did not withdraw troops from Iraq by a deadline on Sunday.

A foreign ministry spokesman said he was unaware of the report.

Japanese foreign minister Yoriko Kawaguchi appealed in a video message on Saturday for the release of the Japanese hostages in Iraq as protesters called for Tokyo to withdraw its troops to save the captives' lives.

Japan was stunned on Thursday when the unknown group released a video showing the hostages, blindfolded and with a gun to their heads.

Earlier on Saturday, a group calling itself the Brigades of the Hero Martyr Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said they were holding 30 foreign hostages and threatened to decapitate them unless US forces lifted their blockade of the Iraqi town of Falluja.

"We have Japanese, Bulgarian, Israeli, American, Spanish and Korean hostages," a masked gunman said in an footage aired by Arab TV station, Al Arabiya. The footage showed no hostages.

There was no word on the whereabouts of the three hostages and a senior Japanese diplomat sent to Jordan declined to say whether he had contacted the kidnappers.

Some 1000 protesters demanding troops come home gathered near prime minister Junichiro Koizumi's office hours before US vice-president Dick Cheney arrived to start of a three-nation Asian tour.

Koizumi, facing his toughest test, has vowed not to pull out the troops, but some analysts say mishandling the crisis could bring down his government.


more news
 
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I'm sorry to dissapoint you, but the majority of Japanese public have been keeping their heads surprisingly.
one of the reasons is that three civilians went to Iraq unwisely although Japan Foreign Ministry announces the evacuation recommendation so that the Japanese public should not go to the most dangerous Iraq. maybe the majority of Japanese public feel they deserve it as a result of paying no mind of the evacuation recommendation.
but a portion of public and mass media have been so excited and bubbled over fanatically. they said such as this responsibility belongs to Japan Government, forgetting their own fault.
and a quick digression, some people in 2-channel(the Japanese famous message board) suspect that this affair may be played their own work, judging from the video and fax message which smell fishy.

but if a terror attack arises in Japan, the Japanese public are anything but keeping their heads contrary to the response for this kidnapping of three idiots.
 

TuskCracker

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3 Japanese Hostages

Think their was a secret deal.

For Americans, it should have been something like this;

Release them or we will send 20-30 thousand elite Japanese soldiers.

I thinks that is what understood in the Middle-East.

p.s: going to war is no trivial decision.

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JackInBox said:
For Americans, it should have been something like this;

Release them or we will send 20-30 thousand elite Japanese soldiers.
sorry to say, Japan Government cant send the soldiers to purpose to fight constitutionally. therefore Japan need an alliance of another country army ironically.
 

Brooker

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I think the peaceful people of Japan will be very troubled by the hostage situation, but the Japanese government will not back down. Japan may not be a military power, but it's a proud country that doesn't want to be seen as weak.

The politics of Japan and America are so linked (sometimes unfortunately) that I think they will always support each other even if the reasons are a little "iffy".
 

Maciamo

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Brooker said:
Japan may not be a military power, but it's a proud country that doesn't want to be seen as weak.
Maybe as a country, but Japanese people are often the first to claim their weak physical and "characterial" (lack of opinion & decisiveness...) constitution...
 

senseiman

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heno heno moheji said:
I'm sorry to dissapoint you, but the majority of Japanese public have been keeping their heads surprisingly.
one of the reasons is that three civilians went to Iraq unwisely although Japan Foreign Ministry announces the evacuation recommendation so that the Japanese public should not go to the most dangerous Iraq. maybe the majority of Japanese public feel they deserve it as a result of paying no mind of the evacuation recommendation.
but a portion of public and mass media have been so excited and bubbled over fanatically. they said such as this responsibility belongs to Japan Government, forgetting their own fault.
and a quick digression, some people in 2-channel(the Japanese famous message board) suspect that this affair may be played their own work, judging from the video and fax message which smell fishy.

but if a terror attack arises in Japan, the Japanese public are anything but keeping their heads contrary to the response for this kidnapping of three idiots.
I have to say that I find this attitude abolutely disgusting. These people went to Iraq because they wanted to help people and now they may pay for their devotion with their lives. You may not have the courage yourself to risk your life to help people, but calling those that do 'idiots', especially at a time like this, is really appalling.
 

Yuka82

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I agree with senseiman. There are many conspiracy theories in Japan right now. Especially because we still don't know the whereabouts of the three hostages but the majority of the Japanese, I dare to say, still want them to come back safely to their families. Actually, a lot of people call the Prime Minister "heartless" due to his refusal to meet with the families.
 
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