• Kyodo, Staff Reports


Relatives of the three Japanese taken hostage in Iraq and threatened with death by militants were working with Arab television networks to try to save the hostages’ lives ahead of the presumed Sunday-night deadline.

Through appearances on the Al-Arabia and Al-Jazeera satellite TV channels, which serve the Arabic-speaking world, eight relatives of the three hostages hoped to convey to Iraq that their loved ones had been working to assist the Iraqi people.

On Saturday, Al-Arabia, based in the United Arab Emirates, aired a brief interview with three family members of the hostages.

A relative of Nahoko Takato, 34, said in the interview, “She has been working to help Iraqi people. I want them (the hostage-takers) to return her safely.”

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera interviewed the family members Saturday.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi recorded a 90-minute video message Saturday to the presumed captors, the Saraya al-Mujahideen group, calling for an early and safe release of the hostages.

The message, with narration in Arabic, was to be made available to local TV broadcasters worldwide via international satellite broadcaster World Offer at 3 a.m. Sunday, the Foreign Ministry said.

It is up to each local broadcaster, however, whether to air the message.

“To members of Saraya al-Mujahideen who are holding three Japanese hostage in Iraq,” starts the video message by Kawaguchi, “the people of Japan are longing for an early release of the three hostages.”

The kidnappers said if Japan refuses to pull out the troops, they will execute the hostages.

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