After ISIS, Will Japan Consider a Foreign Policy Change?

January 28, 2015 Updated: January 28, 2015

Japan has been fervently trying to negotiate with the Islamic State, or ISIS, after the terrorist organization threatened to kill him, prompting speculation that Tokyo could change its foreign policy stance.

The Japanese Constitution, drafted in the wake of World War II, outlaws the country from going to war. Japan actually has the eighth-largest military in the world, but it’s used for defense and is called the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

Allan Bird, who serves as a professor in Global Business at the D’Amore McKim School of Business at Boston’s Northeastern University, says it’s highly unlikely Japan will use the ISIS hostage situation to take steps towards fighting conflicts overseas.

“There may be conditions under which they would consider that, but this kidnapping and beheading event would appear to fall well below the threshold for even considering such a significant policy shift,” Bird tells Epoch Times. “Indeed, whether for or against a more militarized, internationally active Japan, most Japan watchers would agree that such a policy shift would require a revision of” the country’s constitution.

He notes Japan’s crisis in 2004 when aid workers were captured in Iraq before they were released

“Upon their eventual release,” Bird says, “the aid workers, who were seen as having caused trouble going into restricted locations, were charged for their airfare back to Japan.”

Japan seems to be tailoring its policy specifically towards ISIS.

“The wording of communications has been cautious and seems intent on not provoking further retaliatory acts by ISIS. Whether or not this extends to future kidnappings by other groups or individuals will probably be depend on the calculus of expected future retaliation for non-compliance,” he said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, it’s unclear if Japan was able to strike a deal with the terror organization about securing the release of Kenji Goto. His former assistant, Haruna Yukawa, was killed several days ago.

Reports said Jordan was ready to negotiate with both ISIS and Japan to release Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, and possibly Goto if Jordan gives up prisoner Sajida al-Rishawi, who was convicted of attempted to blow herself up in a suicide bombing in 2005. Al-Rishawi, however, took part in a larger terrorist attack that killed 60 people.

Jordan officials didn’t mention Goto–only al-Kaseasbeh, who was captured late last year.

Efforts to release the two gained urgency with the release late Tuesday of a purported online ultimatum claiming the Islamic State group would kill both hostages within 24 hours if the al-Qaida-linked prisoner was not freed.

The scope of a possible swap and of the Islamic State group’s demands also remained unclear.

Any exchange would set a precedent for negotiating with the Islamic State militants, who in the past have not publicly demanded prisoner releases. Jordan’s main ally, the United States, opposes negotiations with extremists.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.