Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on Jan. 27 that Japan would not take military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, according to Time. The country will instead limit itself to providing humanitarian aid to parties affected by the ongoing conflict.
“This decision will remain unchanged for the foreseeable future,” Abe said.
Although Japan’s increased involvement in the war against ISIS seemed likely after the killing of two Japanese hostages in January 2015, Abe’s recent announcement indicates the country will not be joining an international coalition taking military action against the terrorist group.
In early 2015, ISIS released a series of videos showing a militant -- known around the world as “JIhadi John” -- allegedly beheading Japanese hostages Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa. At the time, Japan followed a policy of strict pacifism, but although Abe stated that the country would not take military action to retaliate against ISIS, the Japanese government would hold ISIS “responsible for their deplorable acts.”
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Since then, the Japanese parliament has passed legislation approving overseas combat to defend the country’s allies, according to The New York Times. This law is meant to allow the U.S. and Japan to coordinate in the defense of Japan’s surrounding territory, including the Korean Peninsula, rather than to allow Japanese involvement in foreign wars.
Since 2014, a U.S.-led international coalition has been battling ISIS throughout its territory in the Middle East, reports International Business Times. The coalition includes Australia, Bahrain, Canada, France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates, all of which have displayed varying degrees of involvement.
The main task of the coalition has been to carry out airstrikes against ISIS targets on the ground in Iraq and Syria. By mid-December 2015, the U.S. had conducted almost 9,000 airstrikes against ISIS, reported CNS News.