The Japan Times
Kidnap crisis poses a new risk

In Japan's case, laws are being proposed to punish those entering designated "danger zones" without an official reason.

Victims -- or their families -- will foot the bill for their rescue, which will amount to airfare, if not more. "This is standard practice for mountain rescues," one line of reasoning goes.

But consider two things: One is that an aid mission to a danger zone is not a forest stroll gone astray. The very comparison indicates a misunderstanding of what aid missions do.

The second is policy overstretch and political abuse. This law would place a degree of government control over aid organizations, something many don't want. Particularly NGOs (by very the nature of their title) eschew government support, especially when they take on problems governments would rather avoid.

Under this law, they would effectively need official permission to work in some places overseas. Those "unsponsored" who get unlucky will face a "rescue fine" -- which could bankrupt the person or the organization. Thus this new system of rents will curtail Japanese volunteerism.

The Japanese government is taking this way too far and totally agree with the author of this article that this is a bad bad thing. As I've said before, legislation during emotionally charged times often ends up being stupid and poorly thought through. The ramifications of such a law would be devastating for NGO's and aid workers from Japan, just when such activity is becoming recognized. It almost feels like some stupid conspiracy to use this incident to squash the NGO's in Japan. Bah. I have less and less respect for the Japanese government every day.

7 Comments

wow, so much for government taking care of it's citizens. What the assinine reasoning behind this?

Don't we in the US have similar plans to isolate cities in the event of a major crisis?

I heard on the news yesterday that the government is discussing jamming cell phone channels in the event of an actual or suspected terrorist incident.. the downside of this, they were saying, is that people 'couldn't call 911' - Nobody mentioned that if this was done that they also couldn't call their loved ones to let them know they were okay - or not - like they did on 9/11.

Those calls were absolutely important for many people.. to establish peace of mind, or in some cases, to say a tearful farewell to someone who was trapped in a imminently fatal situation.

This unreal willingness on the part of the government to impose an information blockade on dying people under the guise of stopping terrorism scares the crap out of me.

As an aside, apart from the US, where would you go if you decided to emigrate?

Humm,

I have mixed feelings about this. Most NGO's from Japan do not operate in Iraq, so the number of NGOs affected could be really low. In Iraq, there are terrorist groups that have declared publicly that all foreigners from coalition countries are fair targets for killing. I remember hearing about the Japanese volunteers going over there before the war began and shortly after and thinking "these people are really naive." Maybe they were, maybe not, but now I would not assume the same about someone heading to Iraq. Now I would have to say that they are extreme activists or are nutty. The risks are out there and known because of the Japanese hostage incident.

The government is saying that they will still rescue people but will charge them money. This really puts the responsibility on the individual/group who wants to go someplace dangerous. In a way it makes sense. Tell people not to go to a dangerous place and they still go, but tell them that they will have to pay for their rescue and perhaps they will reconsider.

Japanese people in Iraq are at great risk. I assume it is only a matter of time before something horrible happens to one of them. I hope that anyone who is there will consider returning to Japan.

I am sure that the government are not doing this the right way though. They will probably end up with some law that is too far reaching in its authority. They may end up using this as a way to force NGO's to represent government interests. So I can see why you do not like the idea.

> They will probably end up with some law that is
> too far reaching in its authority. They
> may end up using this as a way to force NGO's
> to represent government interests. So
> I can see why you do not like the idea.

For example, 'rescue' someone who doesn't need rescuing, and send them a legal bill greater than their annual income. Or just threaten to do so.

In any case, following the recent execution of the American man in Iraq (who was working on power or phone lines, and was honestly motivated by a desire to help), I think more people will be reconsidering whether they want to work in such charged environments.

It's hardly fair to say that he knew the risks, though. Nobody outside the military knew that the situation would collapse in the way it has following the discoveries of what has been going on inside prisons in Iraq.

hello Joe, I don't understand why the Japanese govt. had to initiate an attack on Iraqi for no reason at all by supporting the occupiers of Iraq?

Personally i believe that the Iraqi's are justified in attacking the foriegners helping the occupation.

I read that the Japanese hostages released by the Iraqi militia had been charged by the government for their flights home. I thought I'd misunderstood, or it was some strange accounting discrepency. It was some damned inflated figure, too.

I really don't think this is the best way for the Japanese government to get itself out of its debt hole....

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