Monday, April 12, 2004

How the Japanese government blew the hostage deal

By Jane Stillwater,

Last week, an e-mail group that I belong to got a frantic plea from a group member in Japan. "Please help my friends, 3 days only are given to save my friends' life. 3 Japanese humanitarian and peace activist/journalists are in hostage in Iraq. One of them is dear friend of mine." She asked us if anyone in our group knew of any Arab contacts that she could ask to intervene. The group sprang into action and sent her all kinds of contacts!

The Arab media was alerted to the crisis. "These are not Japanese soldiers. These are peace activists!" we told them. The Arab media then passed the word on to Iraqi clerics. The clerics in turn spread the word to others who then notified the rebels. Just like a game of "Telephone".

"We don't want to harm peace activists," said the rebels. Whew! All was well! Our member sent us another e-mail: "Dear all, I thank you all for your support again. I will cry when I see Imai-kun in person when he returns to Japan." She even sent us the URL! All was well. The internet had triumphed over injustice once again!

ABC (Australia) Reuter
Japanese hostages safe in Iraq: report

Then what happened? The Japanese government blew it bigtime. Instead of politely appreciating the situation, they just HAD to go and gloat. "The captors of my Japanese friends in Iraq just announced now that they will kill the hostages if Japan does not withdraw the Self Defense Force. They changed their mind after hearing Japanese government's statement on TV that the captors were releasing the hostages because Japanese government was firm and didn't negotiate with "terrorists". What all the citizens of the world tried days and nights were wasted."

It is time for our macho governments to step back from war and use other means to govern the world. To quote Jeannette Rankin, "Winning a war is like winning an earthquake."

Please request the Japanese government to withdraw its troops from Iraq and thus save the lives of the hostages. E-mail them c/o Please request the US government to do the same. Foreign governments have no business killing Iraqi nationals. That's not war. That's murder.


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