Japan offers $15 million to help fight terrorism in Middle East


Japan, reeling from the murder of two nationals by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremists, will offer an extra $15 million in aid to fight terrorism in Middle East and Africa, a report said Sunday.

Japan hopes to demonstrate its resolve not to cave in to terrorism with the fresh assistance, which will be announced at a global counter-terrorism conference starting on Wednesday in Washington, the Sankei Shimbun said.

It said the money would be distributed through international organizations to affected regions, including countries bordering Syria and Iraq. Large parts of those countries are controlled by ISIS militants.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has come in for criticism over the timing of an earlier $200 million Japanese pledge to help refugees fleeing ISIS-controlled areas, and the comments he made.

Abe announced the $200 million aid in Egypt on January 17, saying Japan would “help curb the threat” of IS and give the money “for those countries contending with” the militants.

The announcement was followed by the hostage drama, with the militants demanding the same sum in exchange for a captured Japanese contractor and a journalist, Kenji Goto.

The militants later changed their demand to the release of a death row inmate, Sajida al-Rishawi, from a Jordanian prison.

Tokyo pressed Jordan for its help, but the militants eventually announced the killing of the pair as well as a Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kassasbeh, along with photos and videos.

The pilot was captured after his jet, part of the US-led coalition air force that has been bombing ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria but in vain, crashed in northeastern Syria in December.

The hostage crisis came as ISIS, which has declared an “Islamic caliphate” over areas it seized in Iraq and Syria, is coming under increased military pressure by Kurdish, Syrian and Iraqi troops pushing to reverse the extremist group’s territorial gains in Syria and Iraq.