Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe invested $200 million in Syria to fight the Islamic State. The ISIL is retaliating. They have taken two Japanese citizens as hostages and are threatening to behead them. ISIL is demanding a ransom of exactly $200 million. One of the hostages is a military contractor, the other a filmmaker.
The last time Japan paid for hostages was in 1977. The Japanese Red Army (with a goal to overthrow the Japanese government) hijacked Japan Airlines Flight 472 over India and forced a landing in Bangladesh. Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda announced that the Japanese government would accept the hijackers’ demands, on the principle that “human life outweighs the earth.” Japan freed six imprisoned members of the Red Army and paid a $6 million ransom. Back then, there was a public outcry in Japan for the government to pay the ransom–because the 156 passengers on the plane were innocent bystanders. According to a BBC report, the Japanese people today are less sympathetic about the current hostage situation. Paying the ransom in Syria now has less public support, as the two hostages knowingly went to Syria, aware of the dangers and risks involved.