Hostage Crisis Highlights Abe's Push for a Bolder Japan

January 21, 2015 8:11 PM

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With Islamic State threatening to execute a pair of Japanese hostages, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had to cut short a Middle East visit and race back to Tokyo. The terrorist group released a video on Tuesday, saying it would kill the two men unless Japan paid a ransom of $200 million. The threat "is unforgivable and I feel a strong resentment," Abe told reporters in Jerusalem. "The international community should not give in to terrorism."

Abe's Israeli hosts are all-too familiar with crises like this one, but Japanese leaders don't have much experience at dealing with hostage-taking. It's been a decade since terrorists in the Middle East last went after someone from Japan. In 2004, al-Qaeda in Iraq beheaded Shosei Koda, a 24-year-old...

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