• Kyodo

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Relatives and friends held a funeral Friday for murdered Japanese hostage Shosei Koda in his hometown of Nogata, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Shuzen Tanigawa, senior vice foreign minister and leader of a Japanese government task force in Amman that tried to get the 24-year-old Koda freed, was among the roughly 400 people who attended the funeral services.

Koda’s mother, Setsuko, 50, tearfully told the congregation, “Shosei’s soul will never come home until there is peace in Iraq.”

Koda’s kidnappers had threatened to behead him in 48 hours unless Japan withdrew its troops from Iraq. The government immediately rejected the demand. Koda’s decapitated body was found in Baghdad on Saturday.

An Islamic terrorist group claimed responsibility for the killing in a statement posted on a Web site Tuesday.

After Friday’s funeral service, Koda’s father expressed gratitude to all those who offered support and assistance.

Koda’s high school classmate, Kentaro Segawa, 25, said the victim had been a cheerful, funny person.

“He may have gone (to Iraq) out of curiosity,” he said. “But showing the killing (on the Internet) isn’t something that people with human feelings do.”

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