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Japan faces scrutiny over failed hostage negotiations

Japan faces scrutiny over failed hostage negotiations
Analysts say the murders mark a “wake-up call” for Japan -- an officially pacifist country that has long avoided involvement in Middle East conflicts -- and that its response to the crisis, at times flat-footed, reveals the weakness of its diplomatic resources in the region. “The government lacked information and that made it difficult for them to handle the situation,” said Takashi Kawakami, a security expert and professor at Takushoku University. “It’s a wake-up call. After this experience, they have to boost intelligence operations at home and overseas.”

The Islamic State group claimed in a video released on Saturday that it had killed respected war correspondent Goto -- the second purported beheading of a Japanese hostage in a week after the death of his friend Haruna Yukawa.

As the crisis unfolded, Tokyo’s relative lack of contacts and know-how in the region became apparent.

Japan seemed almost solely dependent on key ally Jordan -- which was itself trying to free an air force pilot who crashed in IS-held territory in late December.

On Sunday, Tokyo said it was moving to strengthen its intelligence-gathering operations, as well as boosting security at Japanese facilities around the world.

Masanori Naito, a professor of Islamic and Middle East studies at Kyoto-based Doshisha University, said Japan would have been wiser to seek more help from Turkey, which has previously secured release of IS hostages. 
Agencies

Agencies

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