Saturday, January 24, 2015

Commonsense morality and Japanese hostility towards Japanese hostages facing beheading

CNN   Fighting back tears, Junko Ishido stood before dozens of television cameras, just hours before an apparent ISIS deadline to execute her son, Kenji Goto -- one of two Japanese hostages who appeared in a shocking propaganda video days before.

One of the first statements she made, before making a direct plea to ISIS to spare her son's life, was an apology to the Japanese people.

"Thank you for your great kindness and I apologize for the tremendous inconvenience and trouble that my son has caused," she said.

The apology is understandable in the context of Japanese society, says Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University's Tokyo campus.

"In Japan when you inconvenience people, it's important to respect them and ask for forgiveness," Kingston says.

Ishido conveyed several times how badly she feels about her son's capture causing trouble for the Japanese government and alarm for its people. 

To her, it doesn't matter that her son was likely trying to rescue his friend and fellow hostage Haruna Yukawa. It doesn't matter than he has been praised by friends, colleagues, and strangers for reporting sensitively from war zones like Syria with strong, respectful determination. 

If she were to say such things publicly in Japan, she could be perceived as a selfish individual who touts the righteousness of her son. [...]

In 2004, three young Japanese hostages were released by militants in Iraq. Instead of being welcomed home, they were shunned for "causing trouble" for Japan. The former hostages, including one who was in Iraq helping children before her capture, were even billed by the government for their airfare.

"They got the frostiest unwelcome you can imagine. It was essentially government-encouraged bullying," Kingston says -- adding the trauma of their return was in some ways worse than their capture. [...]

1 comment :

  1. I sympathize with the Japanese public in their view. It is indeed irresponsible to go to such places. Why should they not be billed for the expenses incurred in their search for self-aggrandizement?


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