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Yoshiko Sakurai

Build Japan Refusing to Succumb to Terrorism (Yoshiko Sakurai, Journalist and President of JINF)

Yoshiko Sakurai / 2013.01.30 (Wed)

Speaking Out #177

      The Algerian hostage incident, which broke out on January 16, essentially indicated terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda network that attacked the United States in 2001, have built new bases in Africa and recovered their power over the past dozen years.

Africa has become home to radicals
      Even after North African dictatorships have been toppled amid the spreading "Arab Spring" democratization movements, democratic regimes have yet to be established there. Muslim radicals and terrorists have taken advantage of the Arab Spring turmoil to intervene in these countries, exerting negative impacts on the democratization movements. Indicated typically by Libya, dictator-financed mercenaries have obtained massive arms and joined hands with Muslim radicals to build new bases of terrorism and violence. As the Syrian civil war continues, radicals have greater chances to get nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
      On January 11, France launched military intervention in Mali, fearing that Africa would be "Afghanistanized" as al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups take root in a vast area covering northern, western, central and northeastern parts of Africa including the Sahara desert. The international community's battle against terrorism is still going on. The latest hostage incident has clearly suggested that Africa has become a front for the battle against terrorism.
      Meanwhile, in January 2010, Japan under the Democratic Party of Japan government withdrew from refueling operations for foreign military ships in the Indian Ocean. It took part in anti-piracy operations in waters off Somalia, taking second billing to China. The Japanese government, which has been complacent with an isolated pacifism, may not be able to protect Japanese citizens working overseas. This time, 10 precious Japanese lives were lost.

Japan urgently required to set up a NSC
      I think that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on a Southeast Asian tour amid the hostage crisis did what he could then. Despite the hostage crisis, Abe visited Indonesia on the last leg of the three-country tour and announced an overview of his foreign policy, before cutting his visit short and returning home. I would like to recognize his attitude as demonstrating that he was not shaken by terrorism.
      But Japan's anti-terrorism policy has a fundamental defect as compared with that of other countries. Prime Minister Abe asked his Algerian counterpart Abdelmalek Sellal to stop the military operation. Disappointedly, however, Japan posted the largest number of victims among foreign countries in the Algerian hostage crisis. The principles of giving top priority to human lives and taking prudent actions do not work in the fight against terrorism. Against terrorists, resolute actions, even though seen as cruel, must be given top priority. This is the reason British Prime Minister David Cameron accepted Algerian government forces' attacks on the terrorists after calling for giving priority to human lives in the crisis's initial phase where little information was available.
      In order to avoid any similar tragedy, Japan must enhance its power as a country that does not succumb to terrorism. The government should hurriedly set up a national security council to enhance the Prime Minister's Office as a command post. It also should found an intelligence ministry as the core for collecting and analyzing intelligence to reverse Japan's reputation as a laggard in intelligence operations. The number of defense attaches sent to foreign countries should be increased. Japan should also expand its defense budget to substantially increase Self-Defense Forces troops.

Yoshiko Sakurai is President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.