Families, acquaintances dismayed by latest video of Japanese hostage

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Staff Writers

Shock and confusion Sunday overwhelmed the families and acquaintances of the two Japanese men held captive by the Islamic State group as a new video showed a still image of hostage Kenji Goto holding a picture of what appears to the decapitated corpse of fellow captive Haruna Yukawa.

Yukawa’s 74-year-old father, Shoichi, told the media Sunday he was still holding out hope that his son is still alive and that he will give him a hug if he ever sees him again.

“My mind went totally blank,” he said at his home in the city of Chiba. “I cannot find any other words.”

He said he received a phone call from the Foreign Ministry around midnight Saturday telling him his son, a 42-year-old private security contractor who has been held since August, appeared to have been killed, though it could not be confirmed.

“I hope it is not my son, but I just feel awful,” he said, his voice trembling.

Meanwhile, Junko Ishido, 78, the mother of Goto, a 47-year-old freelance journalist who went missing in mid-October after entering Syria through Turkey, told reporters at her home in Koganei, western Tokyo, that her son “looks to be under a lot of psychological pressure.”

“He looked like he had lost weight (compared with the first video),” she said. “I felt his expression has changed. He looks tense, and I think he is under a lot of psychological pressure.”

Ishido said she appreciates all of the ongoing efforts to save her son, adding that “all I can do at the moment is to wait” for good news.

“Praying (for Goto’s safe return) is all we can do, and I am praying with members of the church,” said Hiroshi Tamura, pastor of the Chofu Church of the United Church of Christ in Japan. Until March 2013, Tamura had been pastor of the Denenchofu Church of the United Church of Christ, which Goto attended.

Naomi Toyoda, a photojournalist who worked with Goto in Jordan in 1996, said he also was pained by Goto’s exhausted appearance.

“Counting from the time the first video of him was released (Tuesday), around 100 hours have passed, but he looks as though he has aged five years,” he said. “I feel terrible, wondering what a sense of terror he must be going through.”

Toyoda, a member of the Japan Visual Journalist Association, said the group is planning to release a statement calling for a “nonviolent solution,” appealing not only to the extremists but the government as well.

Toyoda said the extremists may have read a statement the journalism group issued on its website in Japanese, Arabic and English on Tuesday, the day the crisis erupted. It emphasized its neutral stance on covering wars, saying its members “have been criticizing all forms of violence,” as well as “the Abe administration’s current policies that affirm war.”

The group also said Goto is “one of the very few journalists who has reported on TV and via the Internet on the suffering of civilians in Iraq and Syria.”

In the new video, a man identified as “Kenji Goto Jogo” could be heard saying in English, “Please don’t let Abe do the same (as what happened to Yukawa) for my case. Don’t give up. You, along with our family, friends and my colleagues in the independent press must continue to pressure our government.”

Toyoda said the phrase “independent press” — which is the name of Goto’s one-man office in Tokyo — may have referred to independent journalists in Japan, or the JVJA, and that as long as there is a chance the group’s message is heard by the captors, it’s worth trying to convince them not to harm their captive.

Meanwhile, Kosuke Tsuneoka, a converted Muslim and freelance journalist with links to the Islamic State group, said Yukawa’s execution, if true, is “extremely disappointing.”

Tsuneoka said an Islamic State commander asked him to serve as a witness to its “trial” of Yukawa under Islamic law following his capture in August, as the hostage couldn’t speak English or Arabic.

He said he went to the Mideast in September but failed to see Yukawa, and was preparing to go again in October to work for his release.

But Tsuneoka said his departure was thwarted by Tokyo police, who accused him of helping a student who wanted to join the extremist group and confiscated all of his contact information.

“His life could have been saved,” Tsuneoka said. “The tragedy that befell Yukawa was predictable from the very start. That’s why I was taking all these steps (to save him).”

Information from Kyodo added

  • Capitalistcurmudgeon

    Blaming the Japanese government is wild stretch. Nobody forced these journalists to risk their lives.

  • Jalia Sarkaria

    My heart goes out for the family. But Islamic terror is spreading fast. Terrible days ahead.

  • MohammedtheLiarandPedo

    It is sickening to see the masses being utterly ignorant in respect of
    mental health conditions. More should have been in place in Japan to
    ensure adequate care and monitoring in the community for the man, who
    appears to have been entirely delusional. He should not be held
    ‘irresponsible’ for going to be a contractor. This was a sick person,
    living in my view, with a serious disability – a neurotransmitter
    problem – aka a mental illness. For him to be murdered in cold blood
    shows the depth of shame of the killers. Shame on the whole of Islam in
    Jesus name.

  • Hugh Jorgen

    Nuke the bastards. Quite simple really!

  • Tohmsa Hatrman

    Japan, how about reacting with the stoic resolve used when POW’s begged for their lives?

  • xexon

    Japan doesn’t normally get it’s shirt tail caught in the nasty machinary of the Middle East. That’s what’s odd about this. I believe Abe has a made a HUGE mistake by enlisting the help of Israel. This is only going to endanger more Japanese.

    If I were Abe, I would look into the camera and address the terrorists,

    “The Japanese people will spare no expense in hunting you people down and bringing to your your own fates.” At that point, Japanese intelligence services should be given the green light to do just that…


  • Max Erimo

    A terrible terrible situation to be sure.
    But it is a little self righteous of these families to be pretending to be happy families. Mr. Yukawa by all accounts in the (foreign) media was delusional, (believed he was the reincarnation of a female Manchurian spy), failed in a suicide attempt (trying to cut off his genitals, but found by his wife and taken to hospital), homeless and then goes to a war torn country looking for the meaning of life. Where was his family before all this?
    As for Mr. Goto, I believe he has been doing some exceptional work in war torn areas, but again when the story turns to his family. His mother rang his wife, and proceeds to find out she has a new grandchild just born. How did she not know of the pregnancy? NOt a close family. I understand wanting to fix things, but surely for a country as Japan which says Family comes first.
    These are very common examples of the family first situation in Japan.

  • Shiki Byakko

    Another idiot that lives in 1940. I think it is a miracle you are able to use a PC.

  • onlooker

    Soon Japan too will start to face Islamic militancy.. Almost all other major nations have faced it…and when the tipping point comes…the perpetrators won’t be spared..

  • Shiki Byakko

    Two words: Conspiracy Nut.

  • Gerard White

    Hey for the cost of two lives, the puppet masters just got Japans total and utter commitment to war.

    “We will co-operate with the international community to make them atone for their crimes.”

    Almost exactly the same reaction as the French after the January 7th killings. (Remember those “cheese eating surrender monkeys” who refused to join the Gulf war, said that they recognize Palestine as a State and were calling for a relaxation of sanctions against Russian?) Well now they have sent Je Suis Charlie AKA Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier “to co-operate with the international community”

    Has anyone done the maths? We are told there are between 20 – 30,000 IS fighters. Last September the Americans announced they had flown 1,400 sorties, since they have built a coalition and must have flown what 3,000 sorties by now? How many fighter aircraft? How many bomber aircraft? How much munitions used?

    I don’t know the numbers but it seems like an awful lot to kill a very few.

  • Shiki Byakko

    I love people who write like 10 pages of text, just to end with “I’m bored of this conversation”.

    If you are, then don’t write your 10 pages of text.

    The first videos were more clear than all the copies that appear after, because those were the originals.

    Every time there is an event like this, people just copy the video and repost it with crappier quality to get some cheap views on their channels.
    If you search good enough, you will eventually find the originals.

    I mean, that’s just the way the internet works, it is not a conspiracy.

    The positioning was a little too advantageous? It was in the MIDDLE OF THE CITY. If you see the videos, you can clearly see that there are a lot of buildings, all full of people.

    In this time and age a lot of people have phones that can record video, so yeah, the ones who were closer to the event, and took video were the most popular videos of the event.

    Also, things that love of conspiracy nuts is the fact that even visual effects produced by the lighting conditions, the way the video was shoot, the lack of proper white balance on most of these videos, is a always proof of some ridiculous claim.

    If you search too long for something that isn’t there, your brain will put it there for you.

    Question, the first time you watched those videos, did were you thinking already it was a conspiracy?, because if you thought that, OF COURSE you are always see something.

    Ohhh, spooky, it is not public knowledge the details of a secret clandestine operation with shady legal implications.

    Still, I don’t see what that has to do with anything… probably because I don’t have an “open mind” and I’m not seeing “the big picture”.

    Or maybe because I don’t have paranoiac/schizophrenic tendencies.

  • Shiki Byakko

    I’ve seen that film, “What the bleep”. It is a pseudo scientific film using “Quantum Physics” as a buss word to justify their mystical way of thinking, while showing a complete lack of understanding about what quantum physics actually is or how it works.

    Here is a tip, Quantum Physics do not explain consciousness. And in fact, most of the things they use in the film, like the Schrödinger’s cat paradox isn’t an actual model of what is going on at the sub atomic level, but a thought experiment to explain how we detect them with the instruments we have.

    The Schrödinger’s cat paradox, what it tries to explain, is that there is no way to know the actual state of a particle without actually looking at it, so it is convenient to assume that when the box is closed (when we are not actually looking at it) that all states coexist as one.

    The reason is simple, we don’t really understand what is going on, we don’t have actual models that can accurately explain the state of the matter at the sub atomic level, so it is CONVENIENT to explain it as if all the states exist as one when we are not looking, and only one exists when we are looking.

    It’s like the Wave-particle thing. The fact we need to explain some particles as having properties of a wave and a particle is just because we have no clue what is actually going on, and for calculations it is convenient to do it that way.

    Talk to a physicist about “What the bleep”, and he will laugh at it.

    Simply because what they talk about is a common misrepresentation of Quantum theory that people tend to have when they do not properly learn all the basics of particle and nuclear physics before going to quantum physics.

    I’m not going to search you on the Internet, simply because I’m not interested.
    And as I told you, this is my artistic name. Even thou I do try to keep people away from my private information, because I don’t want to get harassed by dumb and crazy people from the Internet, if you look deep enough, you can find a lot of information about me. But so what? I don’t understand your obsession with you wanting to tell me what are your credentials, what is your job, your life… honestly, I don’t care, and neither should you.