A Look at Recent Editorials

Back to Index

A summary of editorials from leading Japanese newspapers (January 29, 2015)

post date : 2015.01.29

A summary of editorials from leading Japanese newspapers, posted biweekly.



              A video released on Jan.24 by a militant group believed to be the Islamic State showed a photo of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto holding a picture of an apparently murdered Haruna Yukawa, the other Japanese captive. A voice message, believed to be read by Goto, demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a would-be suicide bomber and a death row inmate in Jordan, in exchange for Goto’s release.


             The Japanese government has said the video was highly likely to be authentic.


              All national dailies in Japan wrote about the development in their editorials on Jan. 26, all denouncing the act by the militant group as “cruel,” “brutal” and “barbarous” and urging the Japanese government to do its utmost to realize the release of Goto, a freelance journalist who went to Syria in October to rescue Yukawa, who was held by militants.



Japan’s relations with Arab nations


              Japan has been saddened by the plight of Middle Eastern people who have gone through a number of armed conflicts since the end of World War II, The Asahi Shimbun said, adding that $200 million in aid which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently announced was for saving the lives of refugees fleeing the brutality of the Islamic State.


              “That testifies to Japan’s cooperative ties with people in the area that are based on pacifism the country has developed during the postwar years,” The Asahi said.


              As Japan has long been portrayed as a nation amicable to Arab nations, The Mainichi Shimbun said, Japanese people were regarded as less likely to become targets of kidnapping or terrorism.      

“As many existing terrorist organizations compete against each other in their radicalism and ability to shock, Japan has become a target of terrorism on par with the U.S. and European countries,” The Mainichi said. “It is important to consider, also, the possibility that being a peaceful country may make Japan even more vulnerable to attacks.”


              The Mainichi, however, said Japan should not change its long-standing stance toward the Middle East just because of the hostage crisis. “Japan has long faced up to various Middle East issues, including Arab-Israeli conflicts, with an impartial attitude on an issue-by-issue basis. The capacity to take a peaceful, fair and impartial approach to problems is Japan’s greatest asset.”


              The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) said the hostage crisis showed that the threat posed by the Islamic State is not a proverbial “fire on the opposite shore” and that “We must realize Japanese can be a target of terrorism.” It added that “Most Muslims detest terrorism, which victimizes innocent people.”


The Yomiuri Shimbun said criticism is surging among moderate Muslims against the Islamic State, with its repeated brutal actions. “Many sympathize with Japan. The Islamic State is becoming increasingly isolated from the rest of the world.”



Response to hostage crisis


              The Sankei Shimbun supported the stance of Abe, who said: “Without giving in to terrorism, we will actively contribute to the peace and stability of the world in cooperation with the international community. That stance is unchanged.”


              The Sankei urged Japan to play roles commensurate with its international status in the global fight against radicalism. To do so, enacting laws necessary for Japan to effectively fight terrorism is essential, it added. “The Islamic State is, indeed, a terrorist organization. By strengthening cooperation with the international community, including Islamic nations, Japan should do whatever it can to realize Goto’s rescue.”


              The Yomiuri said Japan should try to rescue Goto in accordance with the “human life first” principle without surrendering to terrorism. While maintaining close coordination with the Jordanian government, the Japanese government should “tenaciously make progress in negotiations with the perpetrators” by continuing to call for assistance from intermediaries such as tribes and religious leaders that wield influence over the Islamic State.


              The Asahi said although the situation was tough on both of them, the Japanese and Jordanian governments “have no choice but to remain united in facing the terrorist group without playing into its hands.”



Criticism against opposition parties


The Sankei criticized Japanese opposition members who blasted Abe’s Middle East tour and speech as being a “trigger” for the hostage crisis.”

“Some call for cancelling the provision of the aid money and even his resignation,” The Sankei said. “Is this really the right moment to get in each other’s way?”


*English translations of The Yomiuri, The Asahi, and The Mainichi are from The Japan News, The Asia & Japan Watch and The Mainichi, respectively. Those for The Sankei and The Nikkei are provisional. The content of this page was made by the Foreign Press Center/Japan and does not reflect the opinion of the Japanese Government or any other organization.



About Us
Covering Japan
News Resources
Activity Reports
Reaching the Press