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Shinzo Abe: Japan won't fight Islamic State

Tokyo’s assistance would be limited to humanitarian needs instead, according to Japanese media.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Jan. 27, 2016 at 12:41 PM
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TOKYO, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Japan does not plan to join the international coalition against the Islamic State, the armed group also known as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday Japan's Self-Defense Forces would not be joining others in combat in the Middle East, TIME reported.

Tokyo's assistance would be limited to humanitarian needs instead, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.

"This decision will remain unchanged for the foreseeable future," Abe said.

The prime minister made the comments while fielding questions from opposition party leader Katsuya Okada.

Tokyo became entangled with the escalating violence in the Middle East when the Islamic State carried out a public execution of two Japanese hostages in 2015. The event was one of several catalysts that led to the passage of a controversial security bill that would allow the country's military to fight in overseas missions.

At the time, Abe vowed to hold the perpetrators "responsible for their deplorable acts."

Japan has been generous with humanitarian aid, but it has been less willing to contribute assistance to refugees by offering resettlement in the country.

A year ago, during a visit to Egypt, Abe promised $200 million in assistance to Syrian refugees but Tokyo has yet to offer resettlement support, according to Amnesty International.

Critics in Japan have called for a more inclusive policy, but records show Japan accepted 11 out of 5,000 asylum seekers in 2014 – the lowest refugee recognition rate among industrialized countries.

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