Islamic State threat could stiffen Japan PM Abe’s stance on security

January 21, 2015 9:57 PM

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TOKYO: A purported Islamic State threat to kill two Japanese captives unless it gets $200 million (132 million pounds) in ransom could harden Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s resolve to break with Japan’s pacifism and boost Tokyo’s global security role - even as it intensifies debate over his polarising policy. In an online video released on Tuesday near the end of a tour by Abe to the Middle East, a black-clad figure holding a knife and standing between two kneeling men in orange clothes, gave Japan 72 hours to respond to the ransom demand, which he linked to Abe’s Jan. 17 pledge of $200 million in non-military aid for countries battling the Islamic State.

Abe has denounced the threat. While stressing the humanitarian nature of the aid and promising to do the utmost for the captives’ release, he has also insisted that Japan’s diplomatic policies will not change. “I don’t think there will be any impact at all on Japan’s diplomacy from this hostage, ter...

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