Japan is an active participant in the global war against terrorism. The terrorists who attacked the U.S. on September 11th, 2001, murdered some three-thousand people, among them, twenty-four citizens of Japan.
Today, Japanese Self-Defense Forces serve with distinction in Iraq to provide humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to the Iraqi people.
In his March 19th speech to the international diplomatic corps, President George W. Bush paid tribute to Katsuhiko Oku, one of the two Japanese diplomats killed in a terrorist attack in Iraq. In his diary, Mr. Oku wrote: “The free people of Iraq are now making steady progress in reconstructing their country while also fighting against the threat of terrorism. We must join hands with the Iraqi people in their effort to prevent Iraq from falling into the hands of terrorists,” wrote Mr. Oku. “This is also our fight to defend our freedom.”
Today, three Japanese civilians are held hostage in Iraq. Junichiro Koizumi, Japan’s prime minister, says that Japan will not yield to the terrorists’ “foul threat.” On his visit to Japan, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said the U.S. stands with Japan:
“It’s important that our governments not be intimidated by threats or violence or resort to this kind of action. And that we not allow terrorists to change or influence the policies of our governments by virtue of these kinds of acts.”
Mr. Cheney acknowledged “with gratitude Japan’s leading role in combating terror and in helping to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction.” Two years ago, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces sent ships to the Indian Ocean to support the U.S.-led coalition in removing the extremist Taleban regime from Afghanistan and eliminating the safe haven there for al-Qaida terrorists.
Since the fall of the Taleban, Japan has provided assistance to the Afghan people to help them rebuild their country. Japan has also joined an international campaign to locate and seize the financial assets of terrorists. “Across the globe,” says Vice President Cheney, “Japan is rightly seen as a nation that labored under great adversity to achieve its own success and now is helping other nations to achieve their own.”