07/11/2005, 00.00
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Japan condemns London bombings

by Pino Cazzaniga

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was in Gleneagles (Scotland) for the G8 Summit on the morning of the barbarous London bombings. His condemnation of the treacherous action was unequivocal and direct: "I cannot contain my strong indignation at these terrorist attacks which must never be tolerated. I am furious."

"Prime Minister Tony Blair [. . .] made a statement in regard to these attacks that he will not yield to terrorism. I wholeheartedly support [him] and am determined to offer any assistance," he added.

At home, government officials and political leaders, from both government and opposition benches, echoed Koizumi's words. None the less, Japanese media failed to assess Japan's historic role in giving rise to the disconcerting kamikaze phenomenon.

The term itself is often used by Western reporters as synonym for the young, al-Qaeda-indoctrinated people who become "human bombs".

Kamikaze is a Japanese word—usually translated as divine wind—that originally came into being as the name of a typhoon that is said to have saved Japan from a Mongol invasion fleet in 1281.

Sixty years ago, the word came to refer to suicide attacks carried out by young Japanese pilots who flew their explosive-packed planes against Allied shipping.

The three deadly blasts on London's tube revived memories of sarin gas attacks perpetrated by members of the crazed Aum Shinrikyo sect against the Tokyo subway ten years ago.

Although such precedents might be a stain on Japan's honour, they have not destroyed it, especially since the country has contributed a great deal to world peace and welfare in the last decades.

Overall, the Japanese public reacted constructively to the news coming from London, thanks in part to the media coverage.

Asahi Shimbun's director, who two years ago at the beginning of the Iraq war had warned against viewing it as a religious war, urged his readers to restrain from associating terrorism and religion.

He cited British Prime Minister Tony Blair who said "that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims, here and abroad, are decent and law-abiding people who abhor this act of terrorism every bit as much as we do".

Exhortations to avoid unfair and dangerous associations were accompanied by reflections about the event's import and its impact on humanity's future.

Japanese media gave little credence to the statement published on an internet site by the 'Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaeda of Jihad Organisation in Europe', claiming that the terrorist attacks in London were motivated by the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The fact that the treacherous attack coincided with the G8 Summit in Gleneagles (Scotland) leads instead to believe that the motivation lies in a hatred for the rich and developed world.

This said, the blind hatred of these merchants of death did not stop G8 plans to free millions of men and women, especially in Africa, from poverty and disease.

For the Asahi editorialist, a second lesson can be drawn from the tragedy and concerns world security.

"Soon, it will be four years since 9/11, he writes, "but I ask myself if the world is any safer. The US has invaded Iraq to make the world safer, but the world is less safe now."

For him, Japan is edgy, more so that Italy or Denmark. Tokyo is a terrorist target and both the government and the media know it.

The Madrid and London attacks have shown that mass transit systems in the world's capital are the Achilles' heel of security.

During rush hour, millions of Japanese crowd urban trains and the subway's 12 lines. An attack like that in London would have apocalyptic consequences.

Various government agencies, which are already on a high state of preparedness, are raising the state of alert.

For at least a decade, an Asian community has been in the making, at least at an economic level. This is good, but it also implies population movements. It is however increasingly difficult to control illegal immigrants and the comings and goings of 'criminal ideologues'.

Experts contend that the world needs a global security strategy.

For the first time in Gleneagles, the G8 Summit welcomed other world leaders like those of China and India as observers.

Although not with the same determination, they, too, expressed their support to the British Prime Minister and expressed their willingness to join forces to fight terrorism.

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