What is Fate of Japanese Hostage?
Friday, October 29, 2004 Posted: 11:20 PM JST
The Japanese government was trying to confirm today if a body reportedly found in Tikrit, northern Iraq is that of of Shosei Koda, 24. Koda was kidnapped earlier this week by an al Qaeda group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The kidnappers threatened Tuesday to kill him within 48 hours if Japan did not remove its forces from Iraq. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi tersely rejected the demand.
While Tokyo continued to say that nothing was confirmed, CBS News reported that the Iraqi Interior Ministry had identified the body as that of an Iraqi man.
His family is torn apart by the lack of news. Koda's mother Setsuko and his elder brother Maki today pleaded for his release at a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo.
''My younger brother has no political intentions, no relationship with the Self-Defense Forces and no desire to make a profit,'' Maki Koda, 26, said. ''I believe he just wanted to see what he can do to help the people of Iraq...so I beg you to please return him to safety.''
''It is absolutely impermissible," Prime Minister Koizumi has been reported as saying, "that they took hostage an innocent civilian. The government will take every possible step to have him released as soon as possible.''
The Japanese government has been seeking cooperation from the authorities and local people in Baghdad, but so far there has been no contact with his captors. There is no information on his whereabouts and his fate remains unknown.
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