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Kenji Nagai ShotBy now, I’m sure you’ve read that a Japanese journalist has been shot and killed in Burma (Myanmar). For those who haven’t, the victim was Kenji Nagai, a photojournalist for Agence France-Presse. Nagai had covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While covering the Burmese military junta’s attack on the protesting monks and laymen, Nagai was shot through the heart and died in the streets. The Burmese government claimed he had been hit by a stray bullet, but footage obtained by Reuters suggests he was pushed over and shot at point blank. I’ve included the video below. It is grainy and ill-defined, thus it is difficult to tell whether this is Nagai’s final moments or not. The journalist stayed alive and continued taking photographs from his position until he succumbed to his wounds.

This is a tough incident to handle for Fukuda’s first week on the job. Japan was one of the first countries to recognise the military regime, and Burma is a recipient of Japanese ODA funds ($43 million in 2003). Fukuda has to stand up to this thuggish behaviour by the regime… however, there was little backbone in the response: a strongly-worded letter.

This is something my grandad does about Terry Wogan talking over the songs on BBC Radio 2, not what a state does when one of its citizens is likely to have been murdered by a foreign state’s armed forces.

That is not to say that I don’t appreciate caution, but the Burmese government were cracking down on protests using lethal force… there is nothing right in what they were doing and Japan should be outraged.

In Think Global, Fear Local, David Leheny describes the Japanese approach to counter-terrorism as a system of public awareness campaigns to prepare its citizens for the dangers abroad. Those who fall victim to hostage-takers and other criminals abroad are sometimes said to have brought it upon themselves (in contrast to those who are in safe European countries or taken from Japan, such as the abductees in North Korea).

If Japan wants a stronger security role, it can start here. I’m not advocating military action, but it should be shouting not whimpering. Bring the issue to the UN and push for sanctions. China will be annoyed, that’s for sure, but there are very few regions in the world where they would advocate a change in the status quo.

No matter what, Japan must prove itself capable of protecting its citizens. If it won’t, who will?

via from the inside, looking in



  1. I think the fact that a soldier killed a Japanese citizen is not on its own a great reason to step up political pressure on what is a totally separate issue. The official complaint to be lodged by the Japanese government is appropriate.

    Still, the man’s death is nevertheless a very clear image to the Japanese people of how despicable military rule is in Burma and makes it easier to realize how important it is that their government step up its action. Come join protests at the Burmese embassy in Shinagawa to lend your support!

    BTW. the total for 2003 was 43 million (125 was Cambodia)

  2. I can accept that, the two issues are quite separate, although one may question whether the event would have occurred had the regime not been so odious.

    And thanks for pointing out the ODA total… I must have scrolled up after finding the anchor!

  3. Watching these events unfold from here in rural Japan has made me truly upset over how I can’t lend any form of support to fellow human begins fighting for their basic rights against an 1984 like Big Brother government. I just wish I was near Tokyo, rather than 100’s of miles away so that I too could go and at least protest.

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