Freeze Terrorists’ Assets. Promote Prosperity. Encourage Moderate Values.
Japan’s foreign minister on how his country will fight Islamist terrorism in the Middle East.
The world has been left shocked by the inhumane and despicable murders of two Japanese nationals, as well as those victims from other countries at the hands of ISIL. Words simply cannot express the unbearable pain and sorrow that we feel for their loved ones, nor the strength of our condemnation for these impermissible and outrageous acts.
I would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to our friends in the international community for the strong solidarity they have shown toward Japan in the fight against these deplorable acts of terrorism and the cooperation extended toward seeking the release of our hostages.
However, we must be careful that the focus of our pain and anger is not misdirected. Japan will continue to work in the spirit of solidarity with the Muslim community in the Middle East and elsewhere to eradicate violence and prejudice.
In the face of such vicious and inhuman acts, our message to the international community is unequivocal: Japan will never give in to terrorism. We must hold individuals responsible for these acts and stand resolutely to fight the spread of terrorism. It is through international cooperation that Japan aims to make a proactive contribution to peace and stability. We will continue our efforts to deepen relations with the Middle East, building on coexistence, co-prosperity and collaboration.
In response to recent events, I am committed to thoroughly revamping and expanding Japan’s diplomatic efforts in several core areas.
First, we must strengthen counterterrorism measures. To this end, Japan will double to $15.5 million the assistance that I announced in January in Brussels to countries in the Middle East and Africa to support counterterrorism capacity-building initiatives, including reinforcing border controls and strengthening investigative and prosecution capabilities. Our efforts for drying up terrorist financing will also be strengthened to make sure there will be no safe havens for terrorists. To achieve this, Japan will carry out the recent G20 commitment to deepen international cooperation on the exchange of information and the freezing of terrorist assets.
Second, we must make diplomacy more effective in ensuring stability and prosperity in the Middle East. Japan remains firmly engaged in the region, and will deploy a more active diplomacy to deepen ties both bilaterally and multilaterally in areas ranging from government-to-government cooperation to private economic activities. As proof of our unwavering commitment, the $200 million assistance to countries contending with ISIL that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced in January was just approved by the Diet and will soon be disbursed. And we will further expand our humanitarian assistance such as food and medical services to refugees in the Middle East.
Third, we will take steps for removing root causes of terrorism to build societies that resist the lure and spread of radicalization. By working to help tackle youth unemployment and income disparity, providing support in education, and expanding people-to-people exchanges, Japan will promote moderation and the creation of stable societies. This is in line with the ongoing Summit on Countering Violent Extremism that was held in Washington this week to prevent radical ideologies and their supporters from recruiting and inspiring individuals or groups.
Our efforts to promote stable and moderate societies will also include initiatives closer to home. In Asia, we will work in close cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its member states to promote more moderate values. One example is a regional workshop on counter-radicalization we will co-host with Malaysia, the ASEAN chair this year, that has been promoting peace and security through moderation. We will also host a high-level seminar in Tokyo in June, focusing on the promotion of moderation as a key theme, to share experiences and lessons of peacebuilding in Asia with the world.
It is a long and arduous mission, and the headwinds are strong, but Japan will continue to stand side-by-side with the international community, sharing our expertise and working in cooperation to actively contribute to global peace and stability.
The heinous terrorism acts that recently befell our countrymen underscore Japan’s unwavering commitment: We will not stray from the path we have been walking for the past 70 years — since the end of World War II — as a peace-loving and democratic country that values freedom, human rights, and the rule of law.
Editor’s note: ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is also known as the Islamic State.
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