Japan says it won’t give in to terrorism – but no troops for Middle East

UNITED NATIONS — Japan told the world’s nations on Thursday that it will never give in to terrorism and will continue providing non-military assistance for the fight against the Islamic State and other extremist groups — but not military troops or equipment “at this point.”

Despite recent slayings of two Japanese citizens by Islamic State (IS) militants, Tokyo does not intend to abandon its post-World War II pacifism and chooses instead to increase its non-military humanitarian assistance to the Middle East, the chief spokesman for Japan’s foreign ministry said here Thursday.

Japan sent Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura to the United Nations to deliver the message that following the “outrageous and inhumane” beheading of two Japanese hostages by Islamic State fighters “we will stand resolutely as a member of the international community combating terrorism.”

Kawamura said Japan intends to exercise leadership to increase international coordination in tackling terrorism, noting that it will chair the G-7 group of major economic powers in 2016.

Japan until recently had not become directly involved in the violence surrounding Islamic State militants, who now control about a third of Syria and neighboring Iraq. But days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced during a Middle East trip last month that Japan would give $200 million in non-military aid to support the fight against Islamic State, the militants demanded a $200 million ransom for the two hostages.

Japan refused to pay the ransom, and first adventurer Haruna Yukawa and then journalist Kenji Goto were killed.

Abe is pushing for Japan to play a larger international role, most controversially by seeking to loosen constitutional restraints on its military imposed on the country after its defeat in World War II.

Kawamura said the government is considering sending high-level representatives to an international conference on countering violent extremism hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington on Feb. 18 as part of its effort to play a leadership role.

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