Victims, survivors of Algerian hostage crisis return home

January 25, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

The bodies of nine of the 10 Japanese men killed in the Algerian hostage crisis arrived in Tokyo on Jan. 25 aboard a government aircraft. Seven survivors were also aboard.

The body of the 10th victim, JGC Corp. senior adviser Tadanori Aratani, 66, is expected to be returned to Japan on or after Jan. 26. His body was the last to be identified, on Jan. 24.

The victims were either employees of engineering contractor JGC or enterprises related to it. JGC President Koichi Kawana accompanied the victims and survivors on their homeward flight.

"I am feeling the greatest of grief," he later told a news conference at the company headquarters in Yokohama. "I was determined to bring back safely all those stationed there, but I have to make a disappointing report to you."

Survivors have told government officials that Islamist militants used hostages as shields when Algerian forces stormed the site of the siege, a natural gas complex in In Amenas, southeastern Algeria.

Government sources say that likely refers to the military assault conducted Jan. 17 local time, during which many militants and hostages are thought to have died.

At Tokyo's Haneda Airport, JGC officials joined representatives of the government, including Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, in waiting for the coffins to be unloaded. They bore bouquets of white flowers and bowed their heads in front of the coffins, strapped to cargo pallets.

At a meeting of the government team handling the crisis on Jan. 25, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered a review of the incident and told officials to draft measures to protect Japanese workers overseas.

"It is extremely regrettable that 10 Japanese who worked on the front lines have become victims," Abe told the meeting. "We resolutely condemn the group that committed this despicable act of terrorism."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga released the names of those who died at a news conference.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
  • 1
submit to reddit
Government officials and representatives of the victims' employer, JGC Corp., show respect before the coffins at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Jan. 25. (Jun Ueda)

Government officials and representatives of the victims' employer, JGC Corp., show respect before the coffins at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Jan. 25. (Jun Ueda)

Toggle
  • Government officials and representatives of the victims' employer, JGC Corp., show respect before the coffins at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Jan. 25. (Jun Ueda)
  • Tears among those waiting at Tokyo's Haneda Airport Jan. 25 for a government airplane carrying the bodies of the Japanese victims of the Algerian hostage crisis (Jun Ueda)
  • Koichi Kawana, president of JGC Corp., addressing a news conference in Yokohama on Jan. 25 (Toshiyuki Hayashi)

More AJW