[Marxism] "Save My Son's Life" -- Japan PM in a Tight Spot

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Thu Apr 8 20:09:00 MDT 2004


*****   Save my son's life, pleads teen hostage's mother
April 9, 2004

"Japanese civilian detainees are seen at an undisclosed location in 
this image made from video released on Thursday. Photo: AP": 
<http://www.smh.com.au/ffximage/2004/04/09/main_hostage.jpg>

Families of three Japanese nationals taken hostage in Iraq today 
urged the government to withdraw troops from the Middle Eastern 
country as demanded by the kidnappers.

The Arab satellite television station Al-Jazeera yesterday aired a 
video of two Japanese men and a woman, with and without blindfolds, 
surrounded by heavily armed men.

The Qatar-based television station said an accompanying statement by 
a group calling itself the "Mujahideen Brigades" gave Tokyo three 
days to pull its 550 troops from Iraq or the hostages would be "burnt 
alive".

Close-up shots of the passports revealed pictures, names and other 
details of the three, identified as Noriaki Imai, 18, a volunteer 
worker, Nahoko Takato, 34, a female volunteer, and Soichiro Koriyama, 
a 32-year-old photographer.

"I want to ask (the prime minister's office and foreign ministry) to 
save my son's live," Naoko Imai, 51-year-old mother of the kidnapped 
teenager said in tears today.

She made the comment as she headed to Tokyo from the northern 
Japanese island of Hokkaido to meet government officials. . . .

AFP

<http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/04/09/1081326909162.html>   *****

*****   09 Apr 2004 01:16
Japan PM in a tight spot following Iraq
By George Nishiyama

TOKYO (Reuters) - Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi faced his worst 
political nightmare on Friday as the kidnapping of three Japanese 
civilians in Iraq fanned calls for him to pull Japan's non-combat 
troops from the increasingly violent country.

A previously unknown Iraqi group released a video of the hostages on 
Thursday and vowed to "burn them alive" if Japanese troops did not 
leave Iraq within three days.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who begins as Asian tour in Tokyo on 
Saturday, will urge America's allies in the region not to cave in.

Cheney's message, according to a senior administration official, will 
be: "It's very important to stay on course."

Japan's top government spokesman said late on Thursday that Tokyo had 
no plan to withdraw from the southern Iraqi city of Samawa, where 
some 550 troops are on a non-combat mission.

"Our Self-Defence Forces (military) are carrying out humanitarian and 
reconstruction assistance for the Iraqi people. So there is no reason 
for pulling out," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told a news 
conference.

Opposition parties were quick to put the blame for the kidnapping on 
Koizumi and urge an end to Japan's riskiest military mission since 
World War Two.

"This was something that was bound to happen as a result of a 
mistaken SDF dispatch," Seiji Mataichi, secretary-general of the 
Social Democrats, was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency.

"The SDF ought to pull out," he added.

The deployment of troops to Iraq has sharply divided public opinion. 
Critics also say it violates Japan's pacifist constitution and resent 
a decision they say was made under pressure from the United States.

"I think it's a very difficult decision, but I don't think they 
should pull out the troops," said Mieko Sakai, 43, who runs a 
temporary workers agency.

"The question is, then, how to protect lives."

Others said it was time to withdraw.

"I think they should leave," said a 29-year-old employee of a medical 
equipment company. "It's a choice between human lives and sticking to 
the government policy. If they are going to leave the troops there, I 
think the prime minister should resign."

HIGH ALERT

No Japanese soldier has been killed in combat since 1945, and 
casualties could affect support for Koizumi's government, whose 
ruling coalition faces parliamentary elections in July.

Media commentary mirrored the split in public opinion.

"We cannot give in to despicable threats," said conservative Yomiuri 
Shimbun daily.

The liberal Asahi Shimbun, however, said: "We want the government to 
firmly recognise that conditions under which the SDF can undertake 
its humanitarian mission are vanishing."

The footage of the three civilians, one a woman, blindfolded and 
being held by masked gunmen, follows news that three explosions were 
heard near Japan's military camp in Samawa late on Wednesday, raising 
concerns that Japan is now a target.

The kidnapped were aid worker Nahoko Takato, 34; Noriaki Imai, 18, 
who had been planning a trip to Iraq to do field work on the possible 
effects of depleted uranium weapons, and freelance cameraman Soichiro 
Koriyama, 32.

Families of the kidnapped urged the government to withdraw the troops 
from Iraq.

"My son has been against the dispatch of the SDF," Naoko Imai, 51, 
mother of Noriaki, told reporters. "Perhaps I shouldn't say this, but 
I want the SDF to retreat."

A sister of Takato said the troops should withdraw at least 
temporarily to meet the captors' demand.

"I don't think they will come back unharmed if the demand is not 
met," she said.

(Additional reporting by Elaine Lies, Masayuki Kitano)

<http://www.reuters.com/locales/newsArticle.jsp?type=worldNews&locale=en_IN&storyID=4791276> 
*****
-- 
Yoshie

* Bring Them Home Now! <http://www.bringthemhomenow.org/>
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<http://sif.org.ohio-state.edu/calendar.html>, 
<http://www.freepress.org/calendar.php>, & <http://www.cpanews.org/>
* Student International Forum: <http://sif.org.ohio-state.edu/>
* Committee for Justice in Palestine: <http://www.osudivest.org/>
* Al-Awda-Ohio: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Al-Awda-Ohio>
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