In 1945, advancing American troops and urging by Japanese soldiers drove thousands of Okinawa's civilians to kill themselves to avoid capture. Japanese Internet users’ reactions to the recent executions of civilian hostages Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa by ISIS demonstrate how extreme conditions produce tragedies like the one in Okinawa so many years ago.
私は １９７０年６月、３才３ヶ月になった娘のカリナを連れて、パリからスカルノ大統領の 死の床に殺される事を覚悟で馳せ参じました。その時、只ひとつのことを神に祈りました。「もし私が銃弾に倒れることがあったら、どうか数秒でもいい、 カリナの命を我が手で絶つ力を与えて下さい」と願ったのです。カリナが敵の手におちることなど考えられなかったからです。不謹慎ではありますが、後藤さんに話すことが出来たらいっそ自決してほしいと言いたい。私が彼の母親だったらそう言います。我が子を英雄にする為にも ・・・
In June 1970, I brought my three-year-and-three-month-old daughter, Carina, with me from Paris to the deathbed of President Sukarno, fully prepared to be murdered. I asked God for just one thing: “If I were to be shot and killed, please give me a few more seconds to kill Carina with my own hands,” I wished. I couldn't imagine Carina falling into the enemy’s hands. Knowing this may sound imprudent, if I were to talk to Mr. Goto, I would urge him to commit harakiri. If I were his mother, I definitely would do so — I would want my son to be a hero.
Sukarno's blog entry received more than 50 comments applauding her for echoing their thoughts (though it's worth nothing that Sukarno screens and moderates the comments on her blog). One anonymous comment reads:
Some journalists defended his right to go there, but this is what it comes to. The freedom of press may be important, but what about responsibility for making the entire Japanese people regarded as an enemy?
— 乃南アサ (@asanonami) enero 31, 2015
A friend of mine was a reporter for a major newspaper company. He kept saying the Japanese Embassy never once assisted him, when he ran into a trouble in a foreign country. The embassies of other countries would always help him because they could not stand by and watch any longer. It seems we should face the fact that we belong to such a state.
— 西原理恵子 (@riezo0608) febrero 3, 2015
When he was alive, Kamo told me he was shot at in Myanmar and tried to escape into the Japanese Embassy. Once embassy staff confirmed he was a Japanese citizen, they shut the door. He barely escaped alive, and reported later what happened to his teacher, who only yelled: “You idiot! How could anyone be as stupid as you! Escape into the US Embassy without hesitation! They would have helped you, whoever you are!”
Entering terrorists’ territory against the Japanese government's warning was not courageous; it was pure idiocy, no matter how intense their sense of mission was.
Not all Japanese Internet users are so eager to fault the latest ISIS victims, however. Keigo Takeda, ex-editor of the Japanese version of Newsweek, explained his understanding of the state's obligations to citizens:
違うね。セクハラでDVで保険料未納で反日的で興味本位で行って取っ捕まっても国民である限り救出努力義務を負うのが国家。 RT @ararano 個人が危険地帯に行く。それを止める意見も聞かず、自ら勝手にもたらした災い。それに無限責任を政府は追わないのが、道理。なにをトチ狂っているの
— 竹田圭吾 (@KeigoTakeda) enero 24, 2015
No. Even if a sexual-harasser and anti-Japanese man who had not paid his pension insurance went there out of mere curiosity and was arrested, a state is obliged to try to help him, as long as he is a citizen. RT @ararano Goto tuned out others’ attempts to stop him and went off to a danger zone on his own. He brought this trouble on himself. Moreover, the government's responsibility [for its citizens] isn't unlimited be default.