Japanese lawmakers unanimously adopted an anti-terrorism resolution in the Lower House Thursday, promising to increase nonmilitary aid to the Middle East in an effort to fight the Islamic State in the region. The militant group also known as ISIS and ISIL recently released videos showing the beheadings of Japanese civilian hostages Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa to intimidate Japan away from its humanitarian efforts in the Middle East.
“We strongly condemn that ISIL has carried out inhumane and despicable terrorist acts against two Japanese,” the resolution states, according to Kyodo News. “We declare that Japan and its people resolutely denounce terrorism, and will stand firm in our pledge never to tolerate terrorism.”
The resolution called on the government to increase nonmilitary aid to countries in the Middle East and Africa plagued by terrorism conflicts and for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to work more closely with the international community in fighting terrorism. This move is seen as a departure from a parliament divided about being more proactive in international affairs, in which conservative lawmakers had concerns about being dragged into other countries’ conflicts.
Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and conservative coalition partner Komeito prepared the resolution and introduced it to the Lower House, and the Upper House of parliament is expected to adopt it as well on Friday. Abe has been trying to push for greater responsibilities for Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and more international participation since the country’s self-imposed pacifism after World War II. ISIS’ execution of the two Japanese civilians, along with Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, might have pushed lawmakers on the fence about Abe’s proposal into the prime minister’s camp.
Goto and Yukawa were originally captured late last year, but were apparently held hostage until a video from ISIS came out in January asking for a $200 million ransom within 72 hours. The crisis came during Abe’s recent trip to the Middle East where he pledged $200 million in humanitarian aid to the region. Abe at the time was showing indications of Japan’s increased willingness to be a greater international anti-terrorism player.
The prime minister responded to the video, vowing not to give in to terrorism and pay the ransom. Yukawa was then allegedly executed. The hostage situation changed a couple of days later when ISIS then demanded Jordan exchange a detained Iraqi terrorist for the lives of Goto and Kaseasbeh, but those negotiations fell through, as well.