SHAFAQNA- The mother of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto expressed sorrow Sunday after an online video purported to show an Islamic State group militant beheading the Japanese journalist.
“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 am too upset to find the words to express myself. My son’s last act was to go to Syria to help a fellow Japanese. So I want people to understand my son’s kindness and courage.”
Ishido said her son’s death showed he was a kind, gentle man, trying to save another hostage, Haruna Yukawa, who was shown as purportedly killed in an earlier video.
“I was hoping Kenji might be able to come home,” said Goto’s brother, Junichi Goto. “I was hoping he would return and thank everyone for his rescue, but that’s impossible, and I’m bitterly disappointed.”
The country was mourning a man who according to friends and family braved hardship and peril to convey through his work the plight of refugees, children and other victims of war and poverty.
In Tokyo, Goto’s friend Hiromasa Nakai said he was still hoping against hope that the video was not authentic.
“I only can say I’m hoping this is not true,” he said.
Goto began working as a full-time war correspondent in 1996 and had established a reputation as a careful and reliable operator for Japanese broadcasters, including NHK.
In October, his wife had a baby, the couple’s second child. He had an older daughter from a previous marriage, people who know the family said.
Yukawa was captured in August outside the Syrian city of Aleppo. Friends say Goto travelled from Tokyo to Istanbul and from there to Syria, sending a message on Oct 25 that he had crossed the border and was safe.
“Whatever happens, this is my responsibility,” Goto said on a video recorded shortly before he set out for Raqqa. That was the last time he was seen before an Islamic State video released on Jan 20 appearing to show both Japanese men and threatening to kill them unless the group received $200 million in ransom.
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?”