The distraught mother of a Japanese journalist held captive by the Islamic State group made an eleventh-hour plea for her son’s safe release Friday morning.
She urged the government to do whatever it takes to free Kenji Goto, suggesting that it should pay the money demanded.
“To the people of the Japanese government, please save Kenji’s life,” said Junko Ishido, speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.
In a hastily arranged press conference, Ishido repeatedly said her son is no enemy of the Islamic State group. She said his reporting from war-torn parts of the Middle East had always been neutral.
“I spent the past three days just crying. I have no idea how to express my sorrow,” she said.
She appeared before the press at a time when the fate of Goto and that of a second hostage, Haruna Yukawa, appeared to hang in the balance. On Tuesday the extremist group declared a deadline of 72 hours, which would have run out on Friday.
Ishido voiced hopes that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would follow the example of Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda, who in 1977 paid a large ransom to the communist Japanese Red Army militant group, which hijacked an aircraft.
For now, Ishido said she had received no communication from the Japanese government.
She said Goto had left for the Middle East to try to rescue Yukawa, whom she described as his friend and who was captured in August. This, despite the fact that his wife had given birth only two weeks previously.
“That’s how compassionate Kenji is, having always cared for his weak friends,” Ishido said.
Goto departed without contacting his mother, a decision Ishido described as a testament to his natural kindness. “He probably didn’t want to worry me.”
Noting her son is a person with a strong sense of justice, Ishido said if Goto lives he would undoubtedly make a major contribution to humanity in the future.
“I will make sure he will devote (the rest of) his life to making the world a more peaceful place.”
But Ishido appeared confused at times and rambled, apparently unable to give straightforward answers to reporters’ questions.
At one point she said she knows very little about the Islamic State group, and said her home would be open to any Muslim children who want to come to Japan for tourism or study.