Family, world leaders condemn beheading of Japanese

TOKYO/WASHINGTON D.C. – Family and friends of Kenji Goto, apparently killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, spoke on Sunday of their anguish and shock, local media reported.

They were joined by world leaders in condemning what seems to be the latest video depicted a hostage’s beheading, released online Saturday night.

“I am at a loss for words, facing such a regretful death,” Goto’s mother Junko Ishido, 78, said, according to the Japan Times.

Speaking from her home in Koganei, western Tokyo, she added: “The only thing I can do now is to shed tears of deep sorrow.”

The freelance journalist’s older brother Junichi Goto, 55, told the NHK broadcaster that he was proud of his sibling but wary of the risks he took.

 “I am proud of the work he has done in the past but I think the action he took this time was indiscreet,” he said.

He added: “The Islamic State group has been showing off its power and expanding its influence by taking away the lives of my brother and many other people. Such actions are antisocial and unacceptable.”

Goto, 47, was captured by the group, known as ISIL, in late October and had been held with fellow Japanese Haruna Yukawa, who was killed last week. Goto had reportedly travelled to Syria to help release Yukawa after he was seized in August.

Shoichi Yukawa, the 74-year-old father of Haruna Yukawa, told the Times: “I have heard that Mr. Goto went to save my son. I feel deeply sorry for his family. Mr. Goto is a very respectable person.”

Photojournalist Naomi Toyoda, who worked with Goto in Jordan in 1996, was among those trying to free him. “It is regrettable that we could not save his life,” he said. “I am gravely sorry for Goto and his family for our inability to turn around the situation.”

Toyoda, 58, issued a video statement last week through the the Japan Visual Journalist Association pleading in English, Arabic and Japanese for Goto’s release. He voiced his anger at both ISIL and the Japanese government.

“Tell me, what has the government been doing after all this time?” he said. “Can it swear that it did its absolute utmost to negotiate? Did it really mean it when it said it will save him? I’m angry, disappointed and exasperated.”

New-York based film producer Taku Nishimae, who launched the “I am Kenji” social media campaign, said he felt “huge despair” at Goto’s death. “He was a very compassionate and generous guy,” he said.

Hiroshi Tamura, Goto’s pastor at the United Church of Christ, said he hoped Goto’s death would not foster hatred.

“It would be the unhappiest thing, if fear comes to dominate people’s minds because of this and invites further negative reactions,” Tamura said. “During WWII, 70 years ago, tens of thousands of people were captured as hostages and became victims of the war. We have to make efforts not to make ugly war again.”

NHK reported comments from Haroon Qureshi, leader of the Otsuka mosque in Tokyo, who said he was saddened at the loss of a man who had worked to help Muslims through his coverage of Syrian refugees.

In a statement, U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the “heinous murder.” He added: “Our thoughts are with Mr. Goto’s family and loved ones and we stand today in solidarity with Prime Minister Abe and the Japanese people in denouncing this barbaric act.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron called the apparent murder “despicable and appalling.”

His statement added: “It is a further reminder that ISIL is the embodiment of evil, with no regard for human life.”

French President Francois Hollande “resolutely condemned the brutal murder” in an Elysee Palace statement.

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott described the killing as an "unspeakable horror” that emphasized the importance of seeking to “disrupt and degrade this death cult, which has ushered in a new dark age over parts of the Middle East.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for the unconditional release of all hostages held by ISIL and other groups.

"The Secretary-General extends his deepest condolences to Mr. Goto’s family, as well as the people and government of Japan," read a statement issued by Ban's spokesman.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency