Japan outraged over beheading of journalist

2015-02-01 11:43

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Japan and other nations condemned with outrage and horror the beheading purportedly by the Islamic State group of Kenji Goto, a journalist who sought through his coverage of Syria to convey the plight of refugees, children and other victims of war.

The failure to save Goto raised fears for the life of a Jordanian fighter pilot also held hostage by the extremists. Unlike earlier messages, an online video purporting to show an Islamic State group militant beheading Goto, circulated via social media late yesterday by militant sympathisers, did not mention the pilot.

Goto’s slaying shocked this country, which up to now had not become directly embroiled in the fight against the militants.

“I feel indignation over this immoral and heinous act of terrorism,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters today after convening an emergency Cabinet meeting.

“When I think of the grief of his family, I am left speechless,” he said. “The government has been doing its utmost in responding to win his release, and we are filled with deep regret.”

In light of threats from the Islamic State group, the government ordered heightened security at airports and at Japanese facilities overseas, such as embassies and schools, government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga said.

He said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the status of the Jordanian pilot, Muath al-Kaseasbeh. He was captured in December when his F-16 crashed near the de facto capital of the Islamic State group, which controls about a third of both Syria and neighboring Iraq in a self-declared caliphate.

Jordan’s government spokesperson, Mohammed al-Momani, also declined comment. Earlier this week, Jordan offered to free an al-Qaida prisoner for the pilot, but demanded and said it never got proof he was still alive.

Goto (47) was a freelance journalist and father who braved hardship and peril to convey the suffering caused by conflict and poverty.

“Kenji has died, and my heart is broken. Facing such a tragic death, I’m just speechless,” Goto’s mother Junko Ishido told reporters.

“I was hoping Kenji might be able to come home,” said Goto’s brother, Junichi Goto, in a separate interview. “I was hoping he would return and thank everyone for his rescue, but that’s impossible, and I’m bitterly disappointed.”

Japanese expressed shock and horror over Goto’s killing.

Yukawa’s father, Shoichi, said Goto was trying to rescue his son “only to suffer the worst possible outcome”.

“I just have no words. It’s utterly heartbreaking,” he said. “People killing other people – it’s so deplorable. How can this be happening?”

Abe vowed not to give in to terrorism and said Japan will continue to provide humanitarian aid to countries fighting the Islamic State extremists.

The defense minister, Gen Nakatani, said that the police agency had deemed the video of Goto’s killing “highly likely to be authentic”.

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