To protect itself, Japan can start by being a better communicator

To protect itself, Japan can start by being a better communicator
Smoke rises during clashes between Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq, on Jan. 21.

TOKYO - The Islamic State group has served Japan a grim reminder that it is not immune to the threat of international terrorism. As Tokyo rushes to respond to the taking of two Japanese hostages, one of whom is believed to have been killed, it also needs to take a broader look at ways to protect its security and national interests.

Since the so-called Arab Spring spread in 2011, radical Islamists have taken advantage of weakened regimes, civil wars and ethnic conflicts to expand their presence in the Middle East and North Africa. Islamic State militants have taken control of a wide area straddling Iraq and Syria. In Yemen, al-Qaida has established a stronghold.

The Middle East and North Africa are the regions with the highest jobless rates among young generations, creating fertile ground for radicalization. Youth joblessness has become a major problem in Europe, too -- and extremism is taking a toll there as well.

The Japanese hostage crisis began just after the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

European society is being strained by opposing trends. On one hand, many Muslim immigrant families, swept up in the tides of globalisation, are finding religion to be their only solace.

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