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Statement by Ichiro Ozawa and Taro Yamamoto, Co-President

Statement on the murder of Japanese citizens in Syria

Two Japanese citizens, Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto, have been murdered in the most despicable way by the extremist terrorist organization ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). We would like to offer our prayers for the peaceful rest of the deceased, and our deep condolences to their families and friends. Such abominable and abhorrent behaviour is totally unforgivable and we condemn it vehemently.

The Japanese government claims to have obtained the cooperation of the various countries concerned and to have made every effort to secure the early release of the captives, with the preservation of human life being the top priority. However, events have ended in the worst possible manner. The government must closely examine their response to the incident to find out what contributed to bringing this about, and at the same time must set up a robust crisis management system to ensure such an incident never happens again.

Historically, Japan has enjoyed long and friendly relations with the Muslim world, and the countries of the Near and Middle East have had extremely positive feelings toward Japan. However, Prime Minister Abe’s pledge, on his recent tour of the Middle-East, to provide 200 million US dollars of assistance to the struggle against ISIL, placed Japan in the ranks of the coalition of the willing. It seems to us to have been tantamount to a declaration of war on ISIL.

With this Middle-East visit by the Prime Minister, the Abe administration has dramatically shifted Japan’s position, and has in fact moved a step closer toward actually exercising the right to collective self-defence. We are concerned that if Japan advances onto the international stage in such a fashion, we may find ourselves at increasing risk of becoming embroiled in situations we had not previously envisaged, such as ISIL deciding to make Japan a target for acts of terrorism.

We are opposed to the direction being taken by Prime Minister Abe. International conflicts should always be resolved by the United Nations, and cooperating with the United Nations is in tune with the spirit of the Japanese Constitution. Taking this path also ensures that Japan does not make unnecessary enemies in the international community. Our party will continue to call for the facts regarding the incident in Syria to be disclosed in the Diet, as well as urging for thorough debate to take place in order to scrutinize the actual content of national security policies being pursued by the Abe administration.

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