Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Japan should contribute to the study of “de-radicalization”
OGAWA Tadashi / Professor, Atomi University

December 26, 2017
IS, or the Islamic State, which shook the world through the rule of terror and terrorist agitations in the name of Islam, finally collapsed. At one point, it controlled vast areas in Iraq and Syria and attracted volunteer fighters from around the world. But Mosul, its primary base in Iraq, fell in July 2017, followed by the fall in October of Raqqa, its self-proclaimed capital in Syria. On December the 9th, the Prime minister of Iraq declared the completion of the campaign to eradicate IS. On December the 11th, President Putin of Russia announced the victory over IS in Syria, and ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops.
But this does not mean that the world is safe. On the day of Putin’s declaration of victory, a terrorist bombing incident took place in the New York subway. The suspect arrested on the spot is an immigrant from Bangladesh who, though not being directly connected to IS, has apparently been influenced by it. Radical ideologies are proliferating around the world, and we cannot rule out the possibility that those infected by these ideologies attempt terrorist acts on their own, without relying on any organization.
The radical ideology of IS is like scirrhous cancer. Just as scirrhous carcinoma invades a healthy body without solidifying, the IS ideology infiltrates society and gives rise to lone-wolf terrorism. This goes on in a manner that does not lend itself to surgical removal, say through public security crackdown.

Counter-terrorism authorities have come to focus increasingly on the “de-radicalization programs” undertaken in prisons with terrorist inmates. “De-radicalization programs” mean those programs that aim to free terrorists from the curse of radical ideologies, by which they have been held captive, and to give spiritual, economic and social support to them as well as to their families, in order to prevent them from going back to terrorism. Further, would it be possible to “de-radicalize” not just individuals but also organizations? We need to look into what sort of factors and measures could facilitate the de-radicalization process. Thus there are ongoing researches on “de-radicalization” transcending the boundaries of political science, sociology, psychology, theology and other disciplines.
The case of al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya (the “Islamic Group”) in Egypt is known as an example of an organization that actually underwent “de-radicalization”. Once a radical group that perpetrated the mass murder of foreign tourists, it declared the cessation of armed struggle in 1999 and, in 2002, disbanded its military wing and apologized for its past terrorist actions.

Past researches on terrorism tended to concentrate on probing the causes of “radicalization”, but failed to delve deeply into the examples of “de-radicalization” such as the Islamic Group”. However, as Al-Qaeda terrorism proliferated in the world and an increasing number of terrorists were incarcerated, “de-radicalization programs” came to be conducted on a trial and error basis, stimulating researches on the subject.

The contribution that Japan can make to the study of “de-radicalization” may be limited, but not non-existent. Japan also has experienced instances of terrorism based driven by a radical ideology that abused religion. They were the terrorist attacks committed by the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo in the 1980s and 90s. What kind of steps were taken in the twenty odd years since then to “de-radicalize” those who perpetrated the terrorist attacks? How effective were they? These lessons and experiences are worth sharing with the international community.

In Europe and the United States, anti-Islam sentiments abound, based on the short-circuited assumption that “Islam is a violent religion and gives rise to terrorism”. Japan may well be in a position to offer opportunities to consider “de-radicalization” from a wider perspective including non-Islam religions and ideologies.

Tadashi Ogawa is Professor at the Department of Humanities in the Faculty of Letters, Atomi University.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

小川忠 / 跡見学園女子大学教授

2017年 12月 26日








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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Japan should contribute to the study of “de-radicalization”