(Tokyo Shimbun: January 30, 2015 – p. 2)
In response to the Japanese hostage incident apparently perpetrated by the Islamic State extremist group, the government is enhancing counterterrorism measures such as ensuring the safety of Japanese nationals abroad and tightening immigration inspections to prevent foreign terrorists from entering Japan.
In the House of Representatives Budget Committee session held on Jan. 29, PM Abe emphasized, “The government will provide information for the protection of Japanese nationals who travel to or reside overseas, as well as tightening control to prevent terrorists from entering Japan.” In a meeting on the hostage situation held the same day by relevant ministers, PM Abe instructed them “to make every effort to implement counterterrorism and safety measures to protect Japanese nationals abroad.”
On Jan. 21, the day after the release of the video threatening that the two Japanese hostages could be killed, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) instructed diplomatic missions overseas to hold extraordinary meetings of their “safety measures liaison councils” consisting of representatives of Japanese associations and companies in order to raise awareness about safe geographical areas and timeframes for activities by Japanese nationals overseas. MOFA also called on host countries’ authorities to enhance security measures and patrol around Japanese overseas establishments.
On its website, MOFA calls on Japanese nationals overseas to increase vigilance about the security situation at their respective sites. A MOFA official of the Consular and Migration Affairs Bureau said “The hostage situation has revealed that Japanese can be targeted by terrorists.”
In terms of keeping terrorists out of the country, the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice is enhancing immigration inspections by utilizing fingerprints and photographs, as well as carefully examining passenger’s manifests provided by airlines and ensuring that lost or stolen passports are not misused.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is enhancing security measures at airports, train stations, and seaports, as well as providing tourist agencies with overseas security information to increase awareness.