David McNeill

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Junko Ishido has pleaded for Isis to release her son

Japanese hostage's mother pleas with Isis kidnappers: Please free my son... he is no enemy of yours

Japan has been trying to leverage its influence in the Middle East

Shinzo Abe visited the tomb of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah, in the West Bank, as part of a tour of the Middle East. He expressed fury at Isis’s threat to kill Japanese hostages

Isis draws Japan into its war with threat to behead two of its nationals unless $200m ransom paid

The jihadists' demands may force Prime Minister Abe to toughen his stance against terrorism - despite the country having a pacifist constitution

The awkward handshake between Shinzo Abe, left, and Xi Jinping yesterday shows relations are still tense

China and Japan’s leaders shake hands: a slight thaw in countries' diplomatic deep freeze

But the body language between China’s President and Japan’s Prime Minister today was telling

Zaitokukai members wave racist placards during an anti-Korean rally in Tokyo

Japan’s cabinet rocked by new claims of links to neo-Nazis who target the ethnic Korean population

Members of the far-right group, Zaitokukai, visit Korean communities in Japanese cities, screaming slogans such as 'cockroaches' and 'kill, kill Koreans'

AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre

Meet AKB48: Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success

The group is one of the world’s most successful acts  – but they are steeped in controversy

Protesters with anti-war placards hold a mass rally outside the Prime Minister’s office in Tokyo

Japan's pacifist constitution: After 70 years, nation changes the rules so it can go to war

The country will now be able to engage in collective self-defence and come to the aid of a military ally who is under attack, but the move has proved to be bitterly divisive

Japanese government agrees to landmark change in pacifist stance

Japan’s coalition government has approved a controversial reinterpretation of the nation’s pacifist constitution that will let its troops fight overseas for the first time since World War II.

Publishers fear a ban on owning child pornography will hit the manga industry

Manga and anime industries to be exempt from Japan's new law banning images of child abuse

At least 600 children a year fall victim to paedophile directors and photographers

A man stands in front of the Monument for the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre.

How Japan’s ‘BBC’ is rewriting its role in the Second World War

Naoki Hyakuta says Japan was lured into the Second World War by America while liberating Asia from white colonialism.

Japanese fishermen transporting slaughtered dolphins in Taiji harbour; the water of the cove is red with the blood of dead animals. Locals brand criticism of the cull 'cultural imperialism'

Taiji Cove dolphins: Japanese government defends 'lawful' slaughter as hunters prepare to kill 200 animals

Hundreds of dolphins are killed in a remote Japanese bay during hunting season. The town argues it is an important tradition, but conservationists maintain the bloody practice is inhumane

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Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness