Confusion over Fate of Japanese Hostage
Sunday, October 31, 2004 Posted: 04:26 AM JST
Another body was found in Baghdad this morning at 1:00 Japanese time that is believed to be Shosei Koda, a Japanese civilian kidnapped in Iraq by Islamic extremists, the Japanese government announced today. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima said yesterday evening that an earlier body found north of Baghdad on Friday was not Koda. Information provided by the U.S. military early in the morning Japan time was wrong Takashima said.
''We are now back to the starting point,'' said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda at that time. In reference to the embarrassing and disturbing mistake in announcing the death of Koda: ''We may have some things that we need to reflect on... concerning communications''. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi also stressed the need to double-check all information more thoroughly.
At a hastily called news conference early Saturday morning the Japanese government announced that the physical characteristics of the body resembled Koda's. But during identification in Kuwait a doctor found differences in age, dental profiles, height and the characteristics of the head. Additionally, the person had died long before Koda was kidnapped. Koda is 24 but the unidentified body appeared to be around 50, the ministry's press secretary said.
Koda's father Masumi expressed the feelings of the family: ''Now we can continue to hope that he is still alive.'' However, their hopes seemed to be dashed once again when the news of the new discovery broke early this morning.
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