Japanese Hostage in Iraq Found Dead
Saturday, October 30, 2004 Posted: 12:38 PM JST
A body believed to be that of Shosei Koda has been found in Balad, Iraq, the Japanese government said today. The physical features of the body match those of Koda, Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Hatsuhisa Takashima told a news conference early today. The body bears signs of torture and beatings. It is being flown to Doha in Qatar for identification.
His kidnappers threatened on Tuesday to behead Koda if Japan did not withdraw its Self-Defense Forces from Iraq within 48 hours. Prime Minister Koizumi flatly rejected the demand. If the identification is confirmed Koda will be the fifth Japanese casualty in Iraq since the start of the U.S.-led invasion last year. Last April five Japanese nationals were kidnapped in two separate abductions. All were later released unharmed.
The 24-year-old Koda is believed to have visited Iraq out of curiosity. He arrived in Baghdad on a bus from Jordan on October 21 and was reportedly last seen alive last Sunday. He had repeatedly ignored warnings by his English teacher in New Zealand and the manager of the hotel in Amman where he stayed against visiting Iraq. His family was unaware of his plans to visit Iraq.
In a video posted on the militant group's website Tuesday, Koda was heard conveying a message to the Japanese Prime Minister: ''Mr. Koizumi, they are calling on the Japanese government to withdraw Japan's Self-Defense Forces. They are saying they will cut off my head otherwise. I am sorry. I want to return to Japan again.''
* * *