A purported threat toward Tokyo
from a group associated with the al Qaida terror network is causing some nervousness
in Japan. Officials are trying to gauge the authenticity of the threat, which
promises further bombings against the United States and its allies.
An e-mail sent to a London-based Saudi newspaper (Al-Quds Al-Arabi), purportedly
from an Islamic extremist named Abu Mohammed al-Ablaj, warns of car bomb attacks
in Tokyo and other cities in countries allied with the United States.
The Arabic-language publication says that in the message, the group is threatening
to strike Tokyo if Japan sends troops to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters Monday that Japan will not
give in to terrorist threats.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda says Japan has received several security
threats since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and has added
Mr. Fukuda says the government will investigate the report and try to authenticate
it. He adds that if needed, Japan will increase its vigilance, noting that
it has been on guard since the September 11th attacks.
During meetings in Tokyo with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Japanese
officials said they will send troops for Iraqi reconstruction projects, but
the timing depends on the security situation.
An opinion poll, released Monday by the Nippon Television network, shows
71 percent of Japanese are against sending troops to Iraq. That is up by 22
percentage points from August.
The purported threat, published in London, against Japan by the Al Qaida
associate was a factor in a 3.75 percent plunge of the benchmark Nikkei index
on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Monday.
Analysts say the threat also helped the U.S. dollar gain more than a full
yen against the Japanese currency in Asian trading Monday.
The e-mail threat also warns of new attacks against the Australia, Britain,
Israel, Italy and the United States, saying, "the cars of death will not stop
at Baghdad." The message also takes credit for the twin bombings outside synagogues
in Istanbul Saturday, which killed 23 people.