Mainichi’s weekly magazine, once a staple of the waiting lobbies of banks, medical clinics, dentist’s offices and other reputable establishments, has in recent years become difficult to distinguish from the run-of-the-mill weekly tabloids put out by publishing companies large and small. Here’s what I mean:
Read the Mainichi article while it lasts if you understand Japanese; if you don’t, it’s enough for my purposes that you know that the article is written around the claim that an exchange of Kenji Goto, the murdered Japanese journalist, and Sajida al-Rishawi, a female terrorist on Jordan’s death row, had gone to the brink of being consummated, only to fall through, apparently because of dissent within ISIL.
Now, anyone following this issue outside of Japan would be wondering at this point: What about the Jordanian pilot, Moath al-Kasasbeh, whom ISIL had taken prisoner when his fighter jet went down in Syria? The writers were certainly aware of his existence, since they immediately follow this assumption by their acknowledgement of the fact that ISIL had, on the day before the exchange was supposed to occur, stated that it would not kill Mr. Kasasbeh if the journalist-terrorist exchange went through. But they make no mention of the fact that the Jordanian government demanded to no avail that ISIL produce proof that Kasasbeh was still alive before any negotiations were to be conducted, or the Jordanian government’s assertion, already known for several days before the article was published, that Kasasbeh had been killed on January 3, weeks before the Japanese crisis surfaced. Indeed there is no effort to put the Jordanian government’s demand into context, and the story goes on as if it had never existed.
Would the Jordanian government actually have gone along with the exchange if ISIL had been able to produce proof? After all, if the Jordanian government had made the exchange, ISIL would then have gained a negotiating tool that could be reused again and again. But then, if not, the Jordanian government could have been blamed for having the means to save Kasasbeh’s life yet not using them. Hard to say for me—my guess is that the Jordanian government would have held out for an exchange for both Mr. Goto and Mr. Kassbeh—and it certainly would have put King Abdullah on the horns of a dilemma. But Mainichi edited out the Jordanian angle to highlight the exchange that barely failed to materialize, or so it claims—sensationalism at its worst.