A remote archipelago struggles to remain apart from the war on terror

January 22, 2015 3:26 PM

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A remote archipelago struggles to remain apart from the war on terror

A TOUR of the Middle East by Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, was knocked sideways by the news on January 20th that Islamic State (IS), the extreme jihadist group in Iraq and Syria, threatened to kill two Japanese hostages unless Japan quickly pays a ransom of $200m. The sum demanded is equal to an amount Mr Abe had committed days before in Egypt to give to countries battling IS. As The Economist went to press, the outcome seemed uncertain.

Japan’s heavy reliance on Middle Eastern oil and gas prompts a desire to foster stability in the region. How to handle the hostage crisis now poses Mr Abe’s toughest foreign-policy challenge. He vowed to use all means to secure the two men’s release. Yet paying a ransom would anger America, Japan’s ...

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