Saturday, April 24, 2004

They were reckless

A bleak homecoming for freed Japanese:

By Kenji Hall, Associated Press | April 24, 2004

TOKYO -- No well-wishers were at the airport when three Japanese civilians taken hostage in Iraq returned home safely. As they left the plane, the two volunteer aid workers and a freelance photojournalist hung their heads and were silent.

It was a bleak homecoming -- and it didn't end there.

Noriaki Imai, 18, Nahoko Takato, 34, and photojournalist Soichiro Koriyama, 32, have been accused of rashly ignoring government warnings to stay away from Iraq and blamed for imperiling the Japanese military's humanitarian mission there. The government said it would bill them $6,000 for their flights and other expenses.
...
When I made the comment a couple of weeks ago in RyukyuSoul's journal, I didn't realized their presence in Iraq wasn't sanctioned by the Japanese government. In light of this, I retract the comment and add another voice of condemnation:
"Even though their intentions were good, they should reflect on why they ignored the government's warnings against going to a place as dangerous as Iraq," Japan's leading financial newspaper, Nihon Keizai, said in an editorial. "They could have compromised Japan's humanitarian mission in Iraq and this country's foreign policy in general."
They were reckless. But then, the government should implemented the stricter warning in the first place:
Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Tuesday she might consider tougher travel warnings, and ministry officials said they were considering advisories cautioning that the government might not be able to rescue travelers who put themselves at risk.

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