By 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?