Japanese journalist remains held captive in Syria

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has renewed its calls for the immediate release of a Japanese freelance journalist held hostage by the Islamic State (IS) in Syria since October 2014. Kenji Goto and another Japanese national were shown in a video released by IS on Tuesday, January 20, with the group demanding a USD 200,000 million ransom. When these demands were not met, the Japanese national was reportedly murdered.

On Wednesday, January 28, IS released a recording saying that if Jordan did not release a jailed-Iraqi jihadist by sunset on Thursday, January 29, Goto and Jordanian hostage Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh would be killed. Jordan authorities entered into negotiations with IS militants, however the demands were not met by the deadline.

Since the deadline passed yesterday no word has been released regarding the safety of Goto or the Jordanian hostage.

Kenji Goto is a freelance journalist who found his news agency, Independent Press, in 1996 and travelled to Chechnya, Albania, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Afghanistan to report on the humanitarian consequences of war. He often funded his trips himself. His documentaries were regularly aired on NHK, the national network in Japan.

Japan has outright condemned the murder of their citizen and the threats against Goto. In Japan, the country has united in massive show of defiance to the Islamic State. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Prime Ministers’ residence calling on the Japanese Prime Minister to save Goto immediately.

On social media, people across the globe have united in the call for Goto to be freed. The Facebook page I Am Kenji has garnered over 40,000 likes, with photos and messages of support coming in from across the globe.

Kenji Goto’s wife, Rinko, also made an emotional plea for her husband’s release. She said: “My husband is a good and honest man who went to Syria to show the plight of those who suffer… I fear that this is the last chance for my husband and we now have only a few hours left to secure his release and the life of Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh. I beg the Jordanian and Japanese Government to understand that the fates of both men are in their hands.”

The IFJ Asia Pacifc acting director Jane Worthington said: “We continue our calls for the immediate and safe release of Kenji Goto. The use of journalists as pawns to fight battles is a worrying trend globally. We stand united with the people of Japan condemning the threat made to their citizen and attempts to silence the press.”

 For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 134 countries

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