MLB pitcher Yu Darvish throws a curveball of sensibility into the Yasuda hostage controversy

And now a lesson in Internet civility from the American League strike-out leader of 2013.

The release of Jumpei Yasuda as a hostage of a Syrian militant group has been dominating Japanese media recently and drawing a lot of controversy over the act of going into dangerous areas without permission. At the core of Yasuda’s detractors is the concept of jiko sekinin which translates to “self-responsibility,” but is more like the attitude of “you made your own bed, so lie in it,” “don’t do the crime unless you’re prepared to do the time,” and “buyer beware” all crystallized in a single term.

It’s a cold view of the world in many cases, but it has a wide reach in Japanese culture, and in this case jiko sekinin means “don’t waltz into a hostile country when we told you not to and expect help when you get in trouble.” It’s a sentiment that has manifested its online with comments of “get bent jackass” interspersed with “thank god he’s safe!” in near equal measure.

[祝報]安田純平さん、解放のお知らせ❗️ https://t.co/KpW5mqTjjl


やのっち(。・ɜ・)d (@_yanocchi0519) October 23, 2018

For those new to the story, Yasuda is a freelance journalist who specializes in Middle Eastern conflicts. However, he also has been kidnapped twice in doing so. The circumstances surrounding his work in the area, captures, and releases are very unclear leading many to speculate (sometimes wildly) on what actually happens during his trips.

Regardless of the details, one aspect of the events that rubs people the wrong way is Yasuda’s apparent ungratefulness towards the Japanese government for being returned.

The following are some tweets Yasuda made in 2015, about a decade after being released from Iraq and only a few months before disappearing in Syria. In them, he essentially denounces the concept of jiko sekinin as B.S. and suggests people worry less about his misadventures and focus more on the government that was trying to deny him his freedom to go into these places.

(Tweet translations below)

自己責任について私に聞きたいと言う方は、まずは自分がどう考えるかを明示してください。はっきり言って自己責任論というのは論として成立していないので、こちらからそれについて想像して語るのは昔やりましたがもうやりません。ちなみに私は自己責任について否定したことは一度もありません。


安田純平 (@YASUDAjumpei) April 02, 2015

“A lot of people who want to ask me about jiko sekinin should first explain to me what it means to them. The jiko sekinin that people speak so specifically about isn’t even an established concept. Because of this I used to try imagine what it was and speak about it, but not any more. By the way, I don’t deny there is jiko sekinin either.”

戦場に勝手に行ったのだから自己責任、と言うからにはパスポート没収とか家族や職場に嫌がらせしたりとかで行かせないようにする日本政府を「自己責任なのだから口や手を出すな」と徹底批判しないといかん。


安田純平 (@YASUDAjumpei) April 03, 2015

“Those who are saying I deserve what I got for going into

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