Kenji Goto's brutal death at the hands of a militant group marked the end of a life devoted to sharing stories of hardship from conflict zones around the world.
An extremist group believed to be Islamic State, which has taken control of parts of Syria and Iraq, posted a video online on Feb. 1 purporting to show the murder of Goto, a freelance Japanese journalist taken hostage last year. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the video is likely authentic.
It was another outrageous act perpetrated by the group, which on Jan. 24 claimed to have killed another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa. Their atrocities arouse our profound anger, and these inhuman acts against innocent people are unpardonable.
To secure Goto's release, the group had demanded the release of a prisoner awaiting death by hanging in Jordan for her role in a 2005 triple hotel bombing. It was a demand that Japan could not meet on its own.
Given the friendly ties between the two countries, Tokyo was able to ask Jordan for help in trying to resolve the hostage crisis. However, Jordan faces daily threats from Islamic State at its borders and is participating in a U.S.-led military campaign against the militant organization. It was also concerned about Muath al-Kaseasbeh, a Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot being held by the Islamic State group.
In the face of mounting public pressure, the Jordanian government clearly had no choice but to reject any demand for the release of the prisoner unless al-Kaseasbeh was also freed.
The right choice
As a journalist, Goto reported on the suffering of women and children in conflict areas, sharing stories from the viewpoint of those whose voices often go unheard. In attempting to use his life as a bargaining chip in its self-serving negotiations, Islamic State acted in a way that can only be described as cowardly and despicable.
Terrorism poses a serious security threat to the entire world. Solving this problem requires peace and stability in the Middle East, which is currently rife with militant activity.
In response to the murders by the Islamic State group, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to expand humanitarian aid to the Middle East, vowing Japan would not give in to terrorism. This is the right direction for the country's contribution to the international fight against terrorism. It is important for Japan to play an active role in the international community's efforts to eliminate terrorism and bring stability to the Middle East.
At the same time, the Japanese government needs to keep in mind the importance of enhancing its ability to respond to such crises.