Newspaper article China Post

Prime Minister Abe Faces His Own Prisoner's Dilemma

Newspaper article China Post

Prime Minister Abe Faces His Own Prisoner's Dilemma

Article excerpt

The prisoner's dilemma is one that shows why two purely "rational" individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is facing that double-bind, and it's getting tighter.

Since Haruna Yukawa, a Japanese self-employed security contractor, was beheaded, Abe had been in talks with Jordan to ensure the release of Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist who was taken hostage by the Islamic State for trying to help the captive Yukawa. They were first shown as captives in an IS video that placed a demand of US$200 million as ransom. The sum was the same as the amount Abe promised Japan would donate to help countries dealing with the influx of refugees fleeing fighting between IS militants and regular forces in Syria and Iraq.

Another video recording was posted last Sunday, with Goto holding a picture showing Yukawa's slain body. Possibly forced by the IS militants behind the camera, Goto blamed Abe for Yukawa's death because the Japanese government refused to pay the ransom, and he made a new demand for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death in Jordan for her part in multiple bombings in Amman in 2005 that killed 60 people. Abe branded the murder of Yukuwa outrageous and unforgivable, and he demanded Goto's immediate release.

The hostage swap negotiations had been deadlocked. Jordan agreed to free al-Rishawi in exchange for Goto and the Jordanian air force pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh captured by the Islamic jihadists. IS insisted that Majida be freed first or else the captive airman would be executed last Thursday. Yesterday, a video apparently showing the execution of Goto was released by IS.

Even before yesterday's video, Abe had condemned the murder of Yukawa and went on record as saying, "We will never give in to terrorism, and we will actively contribute to the peace and stability of the world together with the international community. We are not wavering at all on this policy. …

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