Obama condemns apparent execution of Japanese Isis hostage

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has called for the immediate release of a Japanese journalist held by Islamic State after a video surfaced online claiming that his fellow Japanese captive had been executed.

Japanese government officials said they had not yet confirmed whether the recording, and an image of what appeared to be the decapitated body of Japanese captive Haruna Yukawa, who went missing in Syria in August, were real. However, US president Barack Obama has issued a statement condemning what he called the “brutal murder” of the Japanese hostage, suggesting that US authorities believe the video is authentic.

Abe called for the immediate release of the remaining Japanese captive, reporter Kenji Goto.

“We are using every diplomatic channel and means to work towards a release,” a grim-looking Abe told reporters in brief remarks after calling a meeting with his foreign, defence and other ministers after midnight in Tokyo. “This act of terrorism is an outrageous and unacceptable act of violence. I feel a strong sense of anger and firmly condemn this. I again strongly demand the immediate release of Mr Kenji Goto unharmed.”

The sudden escalation of the hostage crisis has become a test for Abe and the dominant news story in Japan since Tuesday, when Islamic State militants released a video showing Goto and Yukawa kneeling with a knife-wielding, masked man demanding a $200 million ransom for their release. The 72-hour deadline set in the first video expired on Friday.

In the brief tape, a man claiming to be the surviving hostage, 47-year-old journalist Kenji Goto, says his “cellmate” is dead and pleads for his own life. Speaking in English with a Japanese accent, he says Isis has dropped its demand for a $100m ransom and instead now wants to organise a prisoner exchange for a woman held in Jordan. The still image released with the tape shows Goto apparently holding a picture of Yukawa’s body.

However, the video was quickly deleted, and one militant writing on a website affiliated with Isis warned that the new message was fake. Another said that the message was intended only to go to Goto’s family.

The prisoner Isis wants released is Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman who was sent on an al-Qaida bombing mission to Jordan in 2005 with her husband. They targeted a wedding in a hotel, and he killed at least 57 people, but she was caught after her suicide belt failed to detonate.

Japan’s deputy foreign minister, Yasuhide Nakayama, is in Jordan to try to coordinate rescue efforts. He was sent soon after the first video of the hostages surfaced, but in the hours before an arbitrary deadline for the ransom payment, Japanese officials admitted that they had not been able to reach Isis.

Yukawa, 42, from Chiba prefecture near Tokyo, went to Syria last year after a series of personal misfortunes. Goto is a respected author and freelance journalist who ran a small media company, and went to cover the Syrian conflict.

On Tuesday the two men appeared together in a video released by Isis’s al-Furqan media outlet entitled “A message to the government at the people of Japan”. It set a 72-hour deadline for the Japanese government to pay a $200m ransom, $100m for each hostage. Its format was similar to previous hostage videos, with the men in orange jumpsuits kneeling on a hillside in a rocky desert, while a British-sounding militant standing between them issued demands. Saturday’s video message, however, did not bear al-Furqan’s logo.

Yukawa was originally detained in April in northern Syria by anti-government militant group the Free Syrian Army, and Goto, who was in the area, was brought as an interpreter for the group to interrogate him. He was captured again some time after 21 July, when his blog entries stopped. In August, Isis released a YouTube video showing him with a bleeding face and lying on the ground, identifying himself as Japanese and not a spy.

Goto is understood to have left Japan for Syria in early October, arriving there some time around 22 October. There has been speculation that he may have travelled to come to the aid of Yukawa.

This is not the first time Japan has faced a hostage crises from Islamic militants. In 2004, followers of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq beheaded a 24-year-old backpacker, Shosei Koda. A video by al-Zarqawi’s group, which later became the Islamic State group, showed Koda begging Japan’s then prime minister to save him.

At the time, prime minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters: “I cannot allow terrorism and cannot bow to terrorism.” Koda’s body was found a few days later dumped in Baghdad.

Barack Obama said in a statement that was issued while he was en route to India: “Our condolences today are with the people of Japan for their terrible loss.”

“We renew our call for the immediate release of Kenji Goto and all other remaining hostages.”

Source Article from http://feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663828/s/42a9be48/sc/8/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Cworld0C20A150Cjan0C240Cjapan0Eattempts0Everify0Eisis0Ehostage0Ebeheading0Evideo0Eyukawa/story01.htm
Obama condemns apparent execution of Japanese Isis hostage
Japanese Test – Yahoo News Search Results
Japanese Test – Yahoo News Search Results

Leave a Reply