Abe: Japan Will Never Give in to Terrorism
Islamic State militant group said they had beheaded a second Japanese hostage, journalist Kenji Goto, prompting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to vow to step up humanitarian aid to the group’s opponents in the Middle East and help bring his killers to justice.
“I feel intense indignation at this utterly cruel and despicable act of terrorism,” a grim-faced Abe told an emergency Cabinet meeting early on Sunday, shortly after a video surfaced purporting to show the beheading of Goto, after the failure of international efforts to secure his release through a prisoner swap, Reuters said in a report.
The IS, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq, released the video showing a hooded man standing over Goto with a knife to his throat, followed by footage of a head put on the back of a human body. Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said the video appeared to be genuine.
The militant speaking with an English accent who is believed to have appeared in previous videos, addresses Abe, accusing him of a “reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war.”
The video was released exactly a week after footage appearing to show the beheaded body of another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa.
Goto’s mother Junko Ishido said she was speechless at his death, saying he had gone to Syria out of “kindness and courage.”
Abe called the killing a “heinous act,” while there has been strong condemnation from the US and other allies in the fight against IS.
“I will never forgive these terrorists,” Abe said. “Japan will work with the international community to bring those responsible for this crime to justice. Japan will never give in to terrorism.”
When IS first threatened Goto, 47, and Yukawa, 42, two weeks ago, it justified its move by citing Abe’s pledge of $200 million in aid to countries battling the militant group.
But in a show of defiance, Abe on Sunday vowed to increase Japan’s food, medicine and other humanitarian aid for the Middle East.
Goto was held along with a Jordanian pilot. Efforts to win their release had focused on the possible release in exchange of an Iraqi would-be suicide bomber jailed in Jordan 10 years ago. The video did not mention the pilot.
Jordan on Alert
Jordan vowed to do all it can to secure the release of one of its pilots captured by IS after the beheading of the second Japanese hostage. The Middle Eastern state echoed Japan in strongly condemning the murder of Kenji Goto.
The pilot, Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, was captured when his plane came down in December on a mission during a US-led airstrike. Jordan says it is willing to exchange an Iraqi prisoner for his safe return.
Government spokesman Mohammed al-Momeni said in a statement the administration was doing “everything it can to save the life and secure the release of its pilot.”
He said, “All state organizations have been mobilized to secure the proof of life that we require so that he can be freed and returned to his home.”
Little has been heard of Kasasbeh since he fell into the hands of IS militants. Jordan clings to the hope that the killing of Kenji Goto would not necessarily have direct immediate implications for the safety of the young pilot.
The news of the beheading of Goto came as Japan successfully launched a backup spy satellite Sunday after the first attempt was canceled last week due to bad weather, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.
Following the launch, Abe said in a statement that the government will build a reliable system for gathering information in order to boost the nation’s national security and enhance its crisis management capabilities.
By the end of March the government plans to launch a sensor satellite to replace the one launched in 2009. Four Japanese intelligence satellites are currently in orbit — two optical satellites and two radar satellites.
Tokyo put spy satellites into operation in the early 2000s after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over the northern part of Honshu Island and into the western Pacific in 1998.