We demand the immediate release of Japanese hostages

January 21, 2015
MIC (Workers of Mass media, Information and Culture)
Chairman Seigo Arasaki

Islamic State, an extremist organization that has been expanding its influence in Syria and Iraq, released video footage of Japanese freelance journalist Kenji Goto and another Japanese hostage on Jan. 20, threatening to kill them within 72 hours unless the Japanese government pays $200 million in ransom.

We condemn the cowardly act of demanding a ransom in exchange for people’s lives. We also consider targeting journalists as being a serious violation against the freedom of expression and speech whose utmost value is respected by the international society. We, workers of the mass media, information and culture industries, strongly demand that the militant organization immediately release the two hostages.

At the same time, we need to carefully assess the crisis involving Japanese nationals. People of Arab nations were said to be pro-Japanese. However, we feel that their perception has been changing ever since Japan dispatched its Self-Defense Forces to Iraq in 2004. We must take note of the fact that the video of the hostages was released during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Middle East earlier in January and his announcement of $200 million in aid to support the states battling IS.

If the Abe administration were to push ahead with Japan’s remilitarization and proactive deployment of SDF overseas in the name of protecting its nationals abroad, Japanese nationals would face a higher risk. Although Japan should not unconditionally grant IS’s demand, we urge our leaders to make utmost efforts and consider the lives of the hostages as a priority.

It is our understanding that Islamic teachings respect life and peace. We, too, as journalists share this principle: We stand against any form of violence and war. We wish to overcome this crisis however possible.