Archive for the ‘Japanese Test’ Category

In a Test of Wills, Japanese Fighter Pilots Confront Chinese

月曜日, 3月 9th, 2015
Naha, Japan: 
Once a sleepy, sun-soaked backwater, this air base on the southern island of Okinawa has become the forefront of a dangerous test of wills between two of Asia’s largest powers, Japan and China.


At least once every day, Japanese F-15 fighter jets roar down the runway, scrambling to intercept foreign aircraft, mostly from China.


The Japanese pilots say they usually face lumbering reconnaissance planes that cruise along the edge of Japanese-claimed airspace before turning home. But sometimes – exactly how often is classified – they face nimbler Chinese fighter jets in knuckle-whitening tests of piloting skills, and self-control.

“Intercepting fighters is always more nerve-racking,” said Lt. Col. Hiroyuki Uemura, squadron commander of the approximately 20 F-15 fighters stationed here at Naha Air Base. “We hold our ground, but we don’t provoke.”


The high-velocity encounters over the East China Sea have made the skies above these strategic waters some of the tensest in the region, unnerving Pentagon planners concerned that a slip-up could cause a war with the potential to drag in the United States. Japan’s refusal to back down over months of consistent challenges also represents a rare display of military spine by this long-dovish nation, and one that underscores just how far the rise of China and its forceful campaign to control nearby seas has pushed Japan out of its pacifist shell.


Under its nationalistic prime minister, Shinzo Abe, Japan has embarked on the most sweeping overhaul of its defense posture in recent memory. Not only has Abe reversed a decade-long decline in military spending as part of what he calls “proactive pacifism,” but his government is also rewriting laws to lift restrictions on Japan’s armed forces, which are taking a more active role as far afield as the Gulf of Aden.


It was, in fact, a speech by Abe that included tough statements on the Islamic State and an aid package to fight extremism that the militants cited as the reason they beheaded two Japanese hostages in January. Videos showing the men’s bodies, posted online, gained Abe some traction for his notion that Japan must be more prepared to take on those who mean it harm.


At the heart of Abe’s strategy is a drive to create a more public profile for Japan’s military, the Self-Defense Forces, which have been strictly limited to defending the Japanese homeland since their creation in 1954, and which for decades afterward were barely acknowledged by a public leery of anything resembling Japan’s World War II era militarism. Although Abe still does not have enough public support for his long-stated goal of constitutional changes to permit Japan a full-fledged military, he is pushing Japan’s purely defensive armed forces into an unfamiliar role as the standard-bearer of a more assertive foreign policy, and a deterrent against a modernizing Chinese military.


“Japan is saying, ‘Uh-oh, maybe with a rising China we have to start thinking differently,'” said Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. “For the first time since World War II, Japan is finding itself on the front line. And for the first time, it has to ask itself, what does an independent defense plan look like?”


Rebuilt after Japan’s defeat in 1945 at the encouragement of the United States, the country’s technologically advanced military took a secondary role to U.S. forces, helping patrol strategic sea lanes in the face of a Cold War-era Soviet threat.


The Self-Defense Forces’ role has expanded over the decades – Japan sent 1,000 noncombat support troops to Iraq in 2004, its biggest overseas deployment since World War II – even though the country still bars itself from possessing offensive weapons like cruise missiles considered necessary to launch full-blown attacks. With a quarter of a million uniformed personnel, Japan has slowly built up a military larger than that of other midlevel powers like France or Israel, though still far smaller than the 2.3 million-strong People’s Liberation Army in China.


Just how far the Self-Defense Forces have come is evident here in the islands of Okinawa, where Japan’s armed forces have been assigned a more demanding – and publicly visible – mission.


The Naha base is just a 20-minute flight by fighter jet from disputed islands that Japan controls, but China claims as its own. The islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, have provided the kindling for smoldering resentment between the countries.


As China has stepped up the pressure in recent years by sending more planes and ships to patrol the islands, Japan has scrambled jets to shadow potential intruders and deployed advanced E-2 radar planes with huge dishes mounted on top to keep tabs on the Chinese while it builds a radar station on nearby Yonaguni island, Japan’s first new base in decades.


The tug-of-war over the islands is a proxy for a much larger battle over the shifting power balance in Asia, where China has begun to overturn the century-long supremacy of Japan, its ancient rival.


Chinese military planners have called the Okinawan islands, including the disputed ones, part of China’s “first island chain” of defense, meaning that they hope to eventually control the waters west of Japan where the United States and Japan have long held sway.


While low-growth Japan is aware that it cannot match China’s rapidly expanding military spending, it is trying to position its Self-Defense Forces to thwart China from trying to snatch the disputed islands, as well as to deter any designs on other Japanese-held islands.


The legal changes Abe’s government is working on would further free the military to come to the aid of an ally under attack, part of a broader strategy to turn Japan into a fuller military partner of the United States to try to ensure that Washington will come to Tokyo’s aid if fighting breaks out over the islands.


Defense analysts and U.S. commanders agree that Japan’s strongest asset is its Maritime Self-Defense Force, or MSDF, widely regarded as the world’s second-most capable navy after the U.S. Navy. With a tradition dating back to Japan’s formidable wartime fleet, and top hardware like the Aegis radar system, the Japanese have the only naval force, except perhaps Britain’s, with the ability to work so fully and seamlessly with the U.S. fleet, U.S. commanders say.


This was apparent during naval war games in November involving almost 30 Japanese and U.S. warships. As the huge U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington launched F-18 jets, its closest escort was the Japanese guided-missile destroyer Kirishima. For the first time during such a complex exercise, a Japanese admiral was in charge of both navies’ defense against simulated seaborne attacks.


“The MSDF is the most capable maritime ally that we have,” said Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas Jr., commander of the Japan-based 7th Fleet.


While China’s navy added its first aircraft carrier in 2012, defense analysts say Japan still enjoys a decades-wide advantage not only in technology but also in experience operating large warships. Japan has more of these larger, blue-water vessels like destroyers, and some of the world’s stealthiest submarines.


Last year, Japan launched its largest warship since World War II, the Izumo, a small aircraft carrier capable of carrying vertical-takeoff jets. The Izumo is part of a more mobile military that Japan is building to defend its far-flung islands to the south, including the contested ones – with or without the United States, if necessary.


Still, analysts say, time is on China’s side, as its economic growth rates allow ever larger military budgets. While Japan’s defense budget rose 2.8 percent to a record 4.98 trillion yen (or $42 billion) in 2015, China announced Thursday that its own military spending would jump 10.1 percent in the same year, to an estimated $145 billion.


“The more the U.S. and Japan will do, the more China will do,” Shen Dingli, associate dean of the Institute for International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, wrote in an email.


Here at the Naha Air Base, the Japanese pilots said they tried to keep their edge with constant training. On a recent morning, they sent up a pair of F-15s to respond to a simulated intrusion, played by three other F-15s.


A growing number of Chinese aircraft over the East China Sea is also keeping Naha busy, so much so that the base plans to add a second F-15 squadron this year. In a nine-month period that ended in December, its pilots scrambled 379 times to intercept foreign aircraft – a sixfold jump from those same months in 2010.


“Every year, China’s operational capabilities seem to be rising,” said the Naha base commander, Maj. Gen. Yasuhiko Suzuki. “Every year, our level of anxiety rises along with them.”

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In a Test of Wills, Japanese Fighter Pilots Confront Chinese
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Nokia, DoCoMo test high-frequency mobile with an eye on 5G

月曜日, 3月 9th, 2015

Nokia Networks and Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo are testing networks using extremely high frequencies that may someday deliver multi-gigabit speed to mobile devices.

The companies’ technology trial is using 70GHz radios that today are about the size of a carry-on suitcase. Eventually, the technology will shrink down to about 5 millimeters across to fit in a mobile device.

So-called millimeter-wave radios can pack a lot of data into a narrow beam, and the frequencies they’re designed to use aren’t in high demand these days. That’s why Nokia and other vendors see this technology as a key part of the future 5G mobile standard coming in 2020.

The trick is pointing that beam at a mobile device, but Nokia and others say they’re working that out. In its booth at Mobile World Congress, Nokia demonstrated a 70GHz base station tracking a moving radio—at pedestrian speed—representing a mobile phone. The cell used a lens to focus its signal. As the base station locked on to the moving box, a gauge showed the connection between them jumping up to 2Gbps (bits per second).

The two components were only a few meters apart in a glass booth, but the idea is eventually to set up millimeter-wave cells on street lamps, about one per block. One cell will be able to track and communicate with multiple mobile devices at once, shifting from one to another in a microsecond, said Mark Cudak, a principal research specialist at Nokia.

Millimeter-wave technology is part of a broad industry effort to take advantage of frequencies above 6GHz, which mobile networks have mostly left alone until now. Ericsson, AT&T and Intel are also interested in this field, and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission recently asked for input on mobile uses for bands between 24GHz and 72GHz.

High frequencies could be a boon to the Internet of Things, where various applications such as self-driving cars and remote medical care will drive demand for both more bandwidth and lower latency, said Phil Twist, vice president of portfolio marketing. The IoT devices will grow in number much faster than smartphones over the next several years, he said. Carriers will need a lot more spectrum to serve that growing field.

The 70GHz band where Nokia and DoCoMo’s trial is taking place has 10GHz of spectrum that could be licensed to carriers in some places and may be a good bet for finding a standard band that regulators agree on around the world, Twist said. The demonstration at MWC is using just 1GHz of the band but future radios could use 2GHz and carry two streams of data. The goal is to eventually get peak speeds of 10Gbps.

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Nokia, DoCoMo test high-frequency mobile with an eye on 5G
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WEC: Nissan's Sebring LMP1 test curtailed

日曜日, 3月 8th, 2015

Nissan, LMP1, testing

Nissan was forced to call an early end to this week’s test at Sebring with its new GT-R LM NISMO World Endurance Championship contender.

The radical LMP1 ran at the Florida circuit on Monday and Tuesday before a component failure resulted in the Japanese manufacturer abandoning a test that could have continued until Friday.

Nissan was piggy-backing onto an Audi test, at which the German marque had one of its heavily-revised 2015 e-tron quattros present, but wasn’t committed to running on all five days.

GT-R LM technical director Ben Bowlby told AUTOSPORT: “It was actually a very minor thing, but we just don’t have a spare here.”

He refused to specify the exact component that had failed, but said it was was “to do with the engine mounting”.

Bowlby explained that Nissan had chosen to test at the bumpy Sebring International Raceway to “accelerate the durability cycle”.

“We’ve spent a lot of time at Austin, which is very smooth, so we wanted to come to a particularly harsh environment like Sebring,” he continued.

He claimed that the Nissan completed a total of 68 laps over the two days, but wouldn’t disclose lap times.

Marc Gene and Olivier Pla undertook all of those laps, while Jann Mardenborough, Harry Tincknell and new signing Max Chilton were present but did not drive.

It remained undecided yesterday whether Nissan will attempt to run the first GT-R LM again ahead of the official WEC test at Paul Ricard on March 27-28, at which it will be present with only one car.

The Sebring test for Nissan followed two runs at Austin totaling nine days either side of Christmas, and a test last month at Palm Beach International Raceway (formerly Moroso), as well as straightline testing at Michelin’s US proving ground in North Carolina.

Bowlby confirmed that the GT-R LM was not running its rear hybrid system, which has been conceived only to deploy power harvested from the front axle.

He could not confirm that Nissan had decided against racing this system in the interests of weight saving nor which of the four classes of hybrid power the GT-R LM would run in this season.

LMP1 manufacturers must complete the homologation of their respective challengers next week, and declare the hybrid class in which their design will run for the full season.

Audi is running a solo new-spec R18 at Sebring this week, and concentrating on putting mileage on the car without undertaking a full-blown endurance test.

The Extreme Speed Motorsports squad is also present with both the ARX-4b coupe and the open-top ARX-03b.

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WEC: Nissan's Sebring LMP1 test curtailed

日曜日, 3月 8th, 2015

Nissan, LMP1, testing

Nissan was forced to call an early end to this week’s test at Sebring with its new GT-R LM NISMO World Endurance Championship contender.

The radical LMP1 ran at the Florida circuit on Monday and Tuesday before a component failure resulted in the Japanese manufacturer abandoning a test that could have continued until Friday.

Nissan was piggy-backing onto an Audi test, at which the German marque had one of its heavily-revised 2015 e-tron quattros present, but wasn’t committed to running on all five days.

GT-R LM technical director Ben Bowlby told AUTOSPORT: “It was actually a very minor thing, but we just don’t have a spare here.”

He refused to specify the exact component that had failed, but said it was was “to do with the engine mounting”.

Bowlby explained that Nissan had chosen to test at the bumpy Sebring International Raceway to “accelerate the durability cycle”.

“We’ve spent a lot of time at Austin, which is very smooth, so we wanted to come to a particularly harsh environment like Sebring,” he continued.

He claimed that the Nissan completed a total of 68 laps over the two days, but wouldn’t disclose lap times.

Marc Gene and Olivier Pla undertook all of those laps, while Jann Mardenborough, Harry Tincknell and new signing Max Chilton were present but did not drive.

It remained undecided yesterday whether Nissan will attempt to run the first GT-R LM again ahead of the official WEC test at Paul Ricard on March 27-28, at which it will be present with only one car.

The Sebring test for Nissan followed two runs at Austin totaling nine days either side of Christmas, and a test last month at Palm Beach International Raceway (formerly Moroso), as well as straightline testing at Michelin’s US proving ground in North Carolina.

Bowlby confirmed that the GT-R LM was not running its rear hybrid system, which has been conceived only to deploy power harvested from the front axle.

He could not confirm that Nissan had decided against racing this system in the interests of weight saving nor which of the four classes of hybrid power the GT-R LM would run in this season.

LMP1 manufacturers must complete the homologation of their respective challengers next week, and declare the hybrid class in which their design will run for the full season.

Audi is running a solo new-spec R18 at Sebring this week, and concentrating on putting mileage on the car without undertaking a full-blown endurance test.

The Extreme Speed Motorsports squad is also present with both the ARX-4b coupe and the open-top ARX-03b.

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WEC: Nissan's Sebring LMP1 test curtailed
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US Dollar Likely to Reverse versus Japanese Yen in Week Ahead

土曜日, 2月 28th, 2015

DailyFX.com –

Fundamental Forecast for Japanese Yen: Neutral

The Japanese Yen traded lower versus the US Dollar for the third week in four and left the USDJPY exchange rate near the key ¥120 level. Why might the week ahead finally bring a major breakout?

Traders have shown little interest in pushing the Yen beyond its narrow three-month trading range, but any significant surprises in upcoming US Personal Income/Spending and Nonfarm Payrolls labor data could change outlook for the otherwise-rangebound USD/JPY exchange rate. A fairly consistent rally from January lows near ¥116 suggests that the next major USDJPY move will be to the topside. Relatively low trader volumes in recent weeks nonetheless limits our enthusiasm for fresh USDJPY-long positions, however. We would ideally see a major shift in market conditions and trader attitudes to justify calling for a sustained break higher.

The key question remains unchanged: when will the US Federal Reserve begin raising interest rates? Yield-seeking investors have typically sold the Japanese Yen against higher-yielding currencies through normal rate environments. And indeed, the fact that the US Fed appears to be the only major central bank to act in 2015 has helped push the US Dollar to 8-year peaks versus the JPY.

Expectations can only take the Greenback so far, and eventually investors will need to see action. Consistent improvements in US Nonfarm Payrolls figures suggest the coming week’s result will further build the case for Fed rate hikes. Yet fundamental risks seem weighed to the downside as few predict that hiring matched the impressive pace seen through January’s report.

Technical forecasts paint a similarly mixed picture for the Dollar/Yen exchange rate, and indecision helps explain why recent CFTC Commitment of Traders data shows speculative JPY-short positions (USDJPY-longs) have fallen to their lowest since November, 2012.

It’s certainly possible that strong US economic data could force a larger break higher in the USDJPY. As far as probabilities go, however, we put relatively low odds on a sustained US Dollar move higher in the week ahead.

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Japanese Yen Likely to test Major Levels on Key Week Ahead

土曜日, 1月 31st, 2015

DailyFX.com –

Fundamental Forecast for Japanese Yen: Neutral

The Japanese Yen remained near-motionless against the US Dollar, but key events in the days ahead suggest the USDJPY could finally break its tight consolidative range.

A highly-anticipated US Nonfarm Payrolls data print could ultimately provide the spark necessary for a larger Dollar break versus the Japanese Yen, and current signs favor the downside on the USDJPY and broader JPY pairs. Indeed we recently highlighted heavily one-sided retail FX trader positioning as a key reason the Dollar could break lower against key counterparts. A sharp drop in US interest rates and Treasury Yields may likewise keep downside pressure on the yield-sensitive USDJPY absent a material reversal of trends. Thus all eyes turn to the highly-market-moving NFPs print as it could potentially set the stage for a larger USD correction.

There is comparatively little foreseeable economic event risk out of Japan and as such eyes will remain on the US economy and broader market sentiment. The correlation between the USDJPY and the Nikkei 225 index has weakened notably as of late; recent gains in Japanese equities have not been enough to lift the exchange rate. Yet a further rise in equity market volatility would likely restore said link, and we’ll keep a close eye on global equity markets as the US S&P 500 registers its second-consecutive monthly decline. Continued losses could be enough to send the USDJPY through key support.

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Hostage crisis trips up Japan as it seeks global security role

火曜日, 1月 27th, 2015

By Nobuhiro Kubo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo knew for months that Islamic State militants were holding two Japanese men captive, but appeared ill-prepared when the group set a ransom deadline and purportedly killed one of them, according to officials involved in the crisis in the past week.

The biggest foreign policy test of Prime Minister’s Shinzo Abe’s two years in office may have blindsided an administration that has pushed for Japan to take a stronger line on global security, according to the accounts of officials speaking to Reuters on condition they not be named.

As Abe prepared for a five-day trip to the Middle East where he would announce $200 million in humanitarian aid to counter Islamic State, he convened a meeting of his national security advisers, said a person with knowledge of the proceedings.

But the issue of the Japanese captives was not raised at the meeting of Abe’s National Security Council, the person added.

Officials involved in preparations for Abe’s agenda understood that by naming Islamic State as a threat during a visit to Egypt, Abe was taking a risk.

His speech before a Cairo business group was intended to drive home the message that Japan was a reliable partner for the region and allies like the United States.

In response, Islamic State released a video a few days showing the two Japanese men, Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, beside a masked militant who demanded a $200 million ransom, citing the amount Abe had pledged in aid.

It is unclear whether Islamic State would have acted differently without Abe’s comments. But experts said the speech was likely to have brought the crisis forward.

“Abe’s comments obviously provoked them,” said Masato Iizuka, an Islamic Studies professor at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

“Going out of your way to call a group of people terrorists and challenging them is bound to have consequences, and I think the risks, the impact it could potentially have on Japanese nationals overseas were underestimated.”

“TAKING ACCOUNT OF ALL FACTORS”

The government’s response to the crisis is bound to figure in a coming debate over military policy that could in future allow Japan to offer logistical support for campaigns like the U.S.-led bombings in Syria.

Yoshihide Suga, the government’s chief spokesman and a close Abe aide, said it was wrong to conclude Abe’s trip had provoked Islamic State.

“We made a decision on the prime minister’s trip after taking (into) account all factors, including ISIL (IS) activities and local security,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“It is not at all appropriate to link this atrocious and contemptible act of terrorism with the prime minister’s visit.”

A small anti-terrorism task force in the foreign ministry had been quietly working on the Yukawa case since August.

After the video threat, the foreign ministry expanded that to a full-blown crisis center and brought in reinforcements on Thursday as embassies around the world sent out requests for help and leads.

Other officials worked from the Japanese embassy in Jordan, which has become the regional hub for Japan’s response.

By Friday morning, with just hours remaining before the ransom deadline, officials had not established contact with Islamic State captors and did not know where the Japanese were being held, a senior official said.

It was not clear whether that has changed since Saturday when a second video emerged claiming Yukawa had been killed.

Nils Bildt, president of security consultancy CTSS Japan, which has worked for the Japanese government, said Tokyo could have tried to establish contact with militants earlier.

“Japan has so far done very little to establish effective and clear channels of communication on the ground,” he said. “While surely someone is attempting to access these back channels now, it would seem they could have been more effectively used over the past few months.”

The government has declined to comment on the specifics of its actions on the hostages, saying only that it was using every diplomatic channel available to secure Goto’s release.

Separately, Abe’s office asked key ministries to clarify the legal framework for its response.

The briefing paper reviewed by Reuters said Japan would not have the legal authority to strike IS even after changes being sought by Abe to free Japan’s military from some of the restrictions of the pacifist constitution.

With Goto in captivity, some Abe critics have held back.

Saori Ikeuchi, a Japanese Communist Party lawmaker, on Sunday said via Twitter that Abe’s administration had “taken lives at home and abroad lightly.”

Ikeuchi deleted the comment and apologized in a subsequent tweet on Monday. “The tweet I made was inappropriate in times like these,” Ikeuchi said. “I offer my apology.”

A survey by the Sankei newspaper on Tuesday found 59 percent of Japanese said Abe’s response the crisis was adequate.

(Additional reporting by Linda Sieg, Antoni Slodkowski, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Teppei Kasai, Ritsuko Ando and Mari Saito in Tokyo; Writing by Kevin Krolicki; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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Japan condemns IS execution, demands remaining hostage release

日曜日, 1月 25th, 2015

* Japan’s PM says video, audio records likely authentic

* Islamic State drops ransom demand, seeks prisoner release

* U.S. President Obama condemns killing of Japanese captive

* Captive crisis a test for PM Abe (Adds Obama phone call, French, Australian leaders)

By Linda Sieg and Kiyoshi Takenaka

TOKYO, Jan 25 (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday called the killing of a Japanese captive by Islamic State militants “outrageous” and again demanded the group release a second Japanese national they are holding.

Abe, speaking to public broadcaster NHK, said chances were high that a recording and an image of what appeared to be the decapitated body of captive Haruna Yukawa, which emerged late on Saturday, were authentic.

The Japanese leader called for the immediate release of the remaining Japanese captive, veteran war correspondent Kenji Goto, and said saving Goto’s life was a top priority.

But he reiterated that Japan would not give in to terrorism.

“Such an act of terrorism is outrageous and impermissible, which causes me nothing but strong indignation,” Abe said. “Again, I strongly demand that Mr. Kenji Goto not be harmed and be immediately released.”

The escalation of the hostage crisis has become a test for Abe, who took power in 2012 pledging to bolster Japan’s global security role. On Tuesday, Islamic State militants released a video showing Goto and Yukawa kneeling with a knife-wielding, masked man demanding a $200 million ransom for their release. A 72-hour deadline for that payment expired on Friday.

In the latest recording, Goto says Yukawa was “slaughtered in the land of the Islamic Caliphate.” But the journalist said the Japanese government could save him by working through Jordan where Abe earlier this week set up an office to coordinate the government’s response to the hostage situation.

Goto says the militants would free him in exchange for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi held in Jordan, and that the militants have dropped the ransom demand.

“PAINED”

“I am filled with disappointment, that it has finally come to this,” Yukawa’s father, Shoichi, told NHK. “I feel pained, that he (Goto) risked his life out of concern (for my son) and ended up being captured. I hope he can be released as soon as possible, and return to Japan to continue his activities.”

Goto’s mother, Junko Ishido, told NHK: “First of all I wish it weren’t true, that it’s some mistake. I’m a mother so it’s unbearable. What I want to tell Islamic State is that Kenji’s ideal is world peace.” She was later quoted by Kyodo news agency as doubting her son would seek a prisoner exchange.

More than 100 people congregated at Tokyo’s Denenchofu Protestant evangelical church, where Goto was baptized in 1997 and where he prayed just days after Yukawa was captured in August. Three policemen stood guard outside the church.

“Please have Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa in your thoughts as we go through today’s prayers,” Pastor Shun Takatsu said.

Abe told NHK he had spoken to Jordan’s King Abdullah about the situation, but he had no comment on the Islamic State demand for the release of al-Rishawi.

U.S. President Barack Obama condemned Yukawa’s “brutal murder” in a statement released by the White House, and later called Abe to express his condolences and thank him for the humanitarian aid Japan has provided to the Middle East.

French President Francois Hollande in a statement also condemned what he called the “barbaric killing,” while Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has forged closer security ties with Japan, called it an “absolute atrocity”.

“All this means is it’s more important than ever to do everything we can to disrupt and degrade the death cult,” Abbott added in a statement from Canberra.

HUMANITARIAN AID

Yukawa, 42, was seized by militants in August after going to Syria to launch a security company. Goto, 47, went into Syria in late October seeking to secure Yukawa’s release, according to friends and business associates.

The new recording, released on YouTube late on Saturday before being deleted, showed an image of a gaunt Goto in an orange t-shirt with audio of what appeared to be him making a statement in English.

“I would like to stress how easy it is to save my life,” the recording says. “You bring them their sister from the Jordanian regime, and I will be released immediately. Me for her.”

Al-Rishawi was arrested shortly after she failed to blow herself up in one of three deadly hotel bombings that hit the Jordanian capital in 2005.

Japan paid $6 million to Japanese Red Army hijackers after a 1977 kidnapping, but in recent years has moved toward the U.S. government’s hard line against paying ransoms.

Japan’s pacifist constitution also rules out any military response. A briefing paper prepared for Abe’s office on Friday and reviewed by Reuters said Japan would not have the legal authority to strike the Islamic State even after proposed legislation loosening military restrictions that the prime minister is seeking to pass later this year.

Abe told NHK that Japan did not intend to join the U.S.-led military operation against Islamic State, but wanted to continue to provide humanitarian aid. The decision by Abe to give aid specifically to countries contending with Islamic State has raised some eyebrows.

“I think it’s unavoidable if they (Islamic State) took this as support for their enemies and view Japan as an enemy,” Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the small opposition People’s Life Party, told NHK, adding the government appeared not to know how to respond.

The Islamic State has executed five British and American aid workers and journalists in recent months. Yukawa’s capture by Islamic State fighters outside Aleppo in August was the first time a Japanese citizen has been held by the group. (Additional reporting by Antoni Slodkowski, Nobuhiro Kubo, William Mallard, Mari Saito, Kevin Krolicki, Hitoshi Ishida, Teppei Kasai and Ritsuko Ando in Tokyo, Mariam Karouny in Beirut, Roberta Rampton in Ramstein, Germany, Matt Spetalnick and Mark Hosenball in Washington and Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman, Writing by Linda Sieg and Kevin Krolicki; Editing by David Evans, Gary Crosse and Ian Geoghegan)

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UPDATE 7-Japan condemns apparent IS execution, demands hostage release

日曜日, 1月 25th, 2015

(Corrects spelling of Yukawa’s first name in paragraph 2)

* Japan’s PM says video, audio records likely authentic

* Islamic State drops ransom demand, seeks prisoner release

* U.S. President Obama condemns killing of Japanese captive

* Captive crisis a test for PM Abe

By Linda Sieg and Kiyoshi Takenaka

TOKYO, Jan 25 (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday called the apparent killing of a Japanese captive by Islamic State militants “outrageous and impermissible,” and again called for the group to release a second Japanese national they are holding.

Abe, speaking to public broadcaster NHK, said chances were high that a recording and an image of what appeared to be the decapitated body of captive Haruna Yukawa, which emerged late on Saturday, were authentic.

The Japanese leader called for the immediate release of the remaining Japanese captive, reporter Kenji Goto, and said he was putting top priority on saving Goto’s life.

But he reiterated that Japan would not give in to terrorism.

“Such an act of terrorism is outrageous and impermissible, which causes me nothing but strong indignation,” Abe said.

“Again, I strongly demand that Mr. Kenji Goto not be harmed and be immediately released. The government of Japan will, in its entirety, do its utmost in order to have him released.”

The sudden escalation of the hostage crisis has become a test for Abe and the dominant news story in Japan since Tuesday, when Islamic State militants released a video showing Goto and Yukawa kneeling with a knife-wielding, masked man demanding a $200 million ransom for their release. The 72-hour ransom deadline set in the first video expired on Friday.

In the latest apparent recording, Goto says Yukawa was “slaughtered in the land of the Islamic Caliphate.” But the journalist said the Japanese government could save him by working through Jordan where Abe earlier this week set up an office to coordinate the government’s response to the hostage situation.

Goto says the militants would free him in exchange for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi held in Jordan. He says the militants have dropped the ransom demand.

“I am filled with disappointment, that it has finally come to this,” Yukawa’s father, Shoichi, told NHK. “I feel pained, that he (Goto) risked his life out of concern (for my son) and ended up being captured. I hope he can be released as soon as possible, and return to Japan to continue his activities.”

Goto’s mother, Junko Ishido, told NHK: “Of course, first of all, I wish it weren’t true, that it’s some mistake. I’m a mother so it’s unbearable. What I want to tell Islamic State is that Kenji’s ideal is world peace.”

Abe told NHK that he had spoken to Jordan’s King Abdullah about the situation, but he had no comment on the Islamic State demand for the release of al-Rishawi.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that Japan was making every effort on the assumption Goto was alive. He said the government had no warning before the new recording emerged.

U.S. President Barack Obama condemned Yukawa’s murder in a statement released by the White House, which did not address how Washington had confirmed his killing.

The Obama statement, issued while he was en route to India, said: “The United States strongly condemns the brutal murder of Japanese citizen Haruna Yukawa by the terrorist group ISIL,” using an acronym to refer to Islamic State.

HUMANITARIAN AID

Yukawa, 42, was seized by militants in August after going to Syria in what he described was a plan to launch a security company. Goto, 47, a veteran war correspondent, went into Syria in late October seeking to secure Yukawa’s release, according to friends and business associates.

The new recording, released on YouTube late on Saturday before being deleted, showed an image of a gaunt Goto in an orange t-shirt with audio of what appeared to be him making a statement in English.

“I would like to stress how easy it is to save my life,” the recording says. “You bring them their sister from the Jordanian regime, and I will be released immediately. Me for her.”

Al-Rishawi was arrested shortly after she failed to blow herself up in one of three deadly hotel bombings that hit the Jordanian capital in 2005.

Japan paid $6 million to Japanese Red Army hijackers after a 1977 kidnapping, but in recent years has moved toward the U.S. government’s hard line against paying ransoms. Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said last week that responding to demands set by the Islamic State would mean “giving in to terrorism”.

Japan’s pacifist constitution also rules out any military response. A briefing paper prepared for Abe’s office on Friday and reviewed by Reuters said Japan would not have the legal authority to strike the Islamic State even after proposed legislation loosening military restrictions that the prime minister is seeking to pass later this year.

Abe has said Japan will press ahead with plans to offer over $200 million in humanitarian aid to help countries combating Islamic State, including aid for displaced refugees.

Abe announced that aid a week ago in Cairo during a trip through the Middle East when he also called Islamic State a threat to the region and to international order.

Abe told NHK that Japan did not intend to join the U.S.-led military operation against Islamic State, but wanted to continue to provide humanitarian aid. The decision by Abe, who took power in 2012 pledging to bolster Japan’s global security role, to give aid specifically to countries contending with Islamic State has raised some eyebrows.

“I think it’s unavoidable if they (Islamic State) took this as support for their enemies and view Japan as an enemy,” Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the small opposition People’s Life Party, told NHK, adding the government appeared not to know how to respond.

The Islamic State has executed five British and American aid workers and journalists in recent months. Yukawa’s capture by Islamic State fighters outside Aleppo in August was the first time a Japanese citizen has been held by the group. (Additional reporting by Antoni Slodkowski, Nobuhiro Kubo, William Mallard, Mari Saito, Kevin Krolicki, Hitoshi Ishida and Ritsuko Ando in Tokyo, Mariam Karouny in Beirut, Roberta Rampton in Ramstein, Germany, Matt Spetalnick and Mark Hosenball in Washington and Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman, Writing by Linda Sieg and Kevin Krolicki; editing by David Evans and Gary Crosse)

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UPDATE 7-Japan condemns apparent IS execution, demands hostage release
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Obama condemns apparent execution of Japanese Isis hostage

日曜日, 1月 25th, 2015

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has called for the immediate release of a Japanese journalist held by Islamic State after a video surfaced online claiming that his fellow Japanese captive had been executed.

Japanese government officials said they had not yet confirmed whether the recording, and an image of what appeared to be the decapitated body of Japanese captive Haruna Yukawa, who went missing in Syria in August, were real. However, US president Barack Obama has issued a statement condemning what he called the “brutal murder” of the Japanese hostage, suggesting that US authorities believe the video is authentic.

Abe called for the immediate release of the remaining Japanese captive, reporter Kenji Goto.

“We are using every diplomatic channel and means to work towards a release,” a grim-looking Abe told reporters in brief remarks after calling a meeting with his foreign, defence and other ministers after midnight in Tokyo. “This act of terrorism is an outrageous and unacceptable act of violence. I feel a strong sense of anger and firmly condemn this. I again strongly demand the immediate release of Mr Kenji Goto unharmed.”

The sudden escalation of the hostage crisis has become a test for Abe and the dominant news story in Japan since Tuesday, when Islamic State militants released a video showing Goto and Yukawa kneeling with a knife-wielding, masked man demanding a $200 million ransom for their release. The 72-hour deadline set in the first video expired on Friday.

In the brief tape, a man claiming to be the surviving hostage, 47-year-old journalist Kenji Goto, says his “cellmate” is dead and pleads for his own life. Speaking in English with a Japanese accent, he says Isis has dropped its demand for a $100m ransom and instead now wants to organise a prisoner exchange for a woman held in Jordan. The still image released with the tape shows Goto apparently holding a picture of Yukawa’s body.

However, the video was quickly deleted, and one militant writing on a website affiliated with Isis warned that the new message was fake. Another said that the message was intended only to go to Goto’s family.

The prisoner Isis wants released is Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman who was sent on an al-Qaida bombing mission to Jordan in 2005 with her husband. They targeted a wedding in a hotel, and he killed at least 57 people, but she was caught after her suicide belt failed to detonate.

Japan’s deputy foreign minister, Yasuhide Nakayama, is in Jordan to try to coordinate rescue efforts. He was sent soon after the first video of the hostages surfaced, but in the hours before an arbitrary deadline for the ransom payment, Japanese officials admitted that they had not been able to reach Isis.

Yukawa, 42, from Chiba prefecture near Tokyo, went to Syria last year after a series of personal misfortunes. Goto is a respected author and freelance journalist who ran a small media company, and went to cover the Syrian conflict.

On Tuesday the two men appeared together in a video released by Isis’s al-Furqan media outlet entitled “A message to the government at the people of Japan”. It set a 72-hour deadline for the Japanese government to pay a $200m ransom, $100m for each hostage. Its format was similar to previous hostage videos, with the men in orange jumpsuits kneeling on a hillside in a rocky desert, while a British-sounding militant standing between them issued demands. Saturday’s video message, however, did not bear al-Furqan’s logo.

Yukawa was originally detained in April in northern Syria by anti-government militant group the Free Syrian Army, and Goto, who was in the area, was brought as an interpreter for the group to interrogate him. He was captured again some time after 21 July, when his blog entries stopped. In August, Isis released a YouTube video showing him with a bleeding face and lying on the ground, identifying himself as Japanese and not a spy.

Goto is understood to have left Japan for Syria in early October, arriving there some time around 22 October. There has been speculation that he may have travelled to come to the aid of Yukawa.

This is not the first time Japan has faced a hostage crises from Islamic militants. In 2004, followers of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq beheaded a 24-year-old backpacker, Shosei Koda. A video by al-Zarqawi’s group, which later became the Islamic State group, showed Koda begging Japan’s then prime minister to save him.

At the time, prime minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters: “I cannot allow terrorism and cannot bow to terrorism.” Koda’s body was found a few days later dumped in Baghdad.

Barack Obama said in a statement that was issued while he was en route to India: “Our condolences today are with the people of Japan for their terrible loss.”

“We renew our call for the immediate release of Kenji Goto and all other remaining hostages.”

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Obama condemns apparent execution of Japanese Isis hostage
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