ISISによる日本人人質事件への安倍政権の対応ぶりについて、さまざまな論調が飛び交っている。日本のメディアには、感情的に反応するばかりで、論理的な分析が伴わず、読むに耐えないものが殆どだが、海外の論調には、第三者の視点から、冷静に分析したものも見かける。その中で、筆者の目に留まったものを、参考のために引用したい。日頃保守的なスタンスをとっている Economist のものだ。
The bitter end Japanese come face to face with terrorism at its most savage
THOUGH many had feared a tragic end to Japan's two-week long hostage crisis, the video released by Islamic State (IS) on February 1st showing the brutal murder of Kenji Goto (pictured), a journalist and documentary maker, prompted shock, outrage and deep sorrow at home. Mr Goto's work portraying the suffering of refugees and children in war zones had quickly won the nation's respect. Japan was also left to digest the jihadist group's chilling threat to kill more Japanese in an ongoing "nightmare" for the country.
Ordinary people wish the threat of violence would disappear as swiftly as it came. Living on a remote archipelago typically untouched by terrorism, office workers in central Tokyo now say that they feel personally vulnerable to IS after Mr Goto's killing. The shock has even led some to blame the two hostages for venturing willingly into dangerous territory and, as they see it, endangering compatriots.
Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, struck an unusually forceful stance following the news, promising to work with other countries to "make IS atone for its crimes". Japan would never forgive the group, he said, and never give in. It was a pledge by Mr Abe in Egypt nearly two weeks ago--to commit $200m in humanitarian assistance and infrastructure development in countries fighting IS--that prompted the jihadist group to demand an equal sum as ransom for Mr Goto and a second hostage, Haruna Yukawa. Mr Abe's assertive language came as a surprise to Middle East experts in Japan's own diplomatic service.
It later emerged that the government had known that IS was holding the two men, and some critics have blamed Mr Abe for precipitating a crisis that the country was ill-equipped to handle. The affair could now affect his cherished mission to have Japan play a bigger part in the world. After IS's initial threat to kill the hostages, on January 20th, Mr Abe's options were quickly revealed as tightly circumscribed. Japan had no intelligence capability to discover the two men's whereabouts, and it did not communicate directly with IS. The country's pacifist constitution barred a rescue mission, and paying a ransom would have angered America, Japan's main ally (although Japan has in the past paid ransoms).
Mr Yukawa's plight evoked less public sympathy than that of his friend. He appeared something of a lost soul who travelled to Syria to find himself, only to be captured by IS, drawing in Mr Goto to seek his release. After news of Mr Yukawa's execution came on January 24th, a new phase of the crisis unfolded as IS offered to free Mr Goto in return for the release of a female Iraqi suicide bomber held by Jordan. Yet Jordan reportedly rejected a straight swap and requested the additional release of a Jordanian fighter pilot held by IS, as well as proof that he was still alive. Japanese officials privately complained that they found themselves entirely reliant upon Jordan.
For now, Japan's horror at IS's brutality is trumping criticism of Mr Abe's handling of the crisis. The tragedy underlined that Japan is obliged to fight "barehanded", says Tomoyuki Abe, a 31-year-old salaryman in central Tokyo, echoing many politicians in Mr Abe's Liberal Democratic Party. Indeed, his administration regards it as further persuasive evidence of the need for a beefed-up military. In the current session of the Diet, Mr Abe's government will submit legislation to allow its Self-Defence Forces to come to the aid of Japan's allies should they come under attack--and in a way which endangers Japan's own security.
The two hostages' grisly fate could further entrench the public's isolationist tendency, hindering Mr Abe's dream of ditching pacifism altogether. A majority of Japanese are already opposed to his impending security changes. Convincing them otherwise probably just got harder still.