Beheaded Body of Japanese Hostage Found

Body found confirmed to be the Japanese hostage

The headless corpse found Saturday in Baghdad has turned out to be the Japanese hostage Shosei Koda, who was kidnapped in Iraq last week, Japan’s Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said on Sunday. On Tuesday, a group kidnapped Koda in Iraq and threatened to execute him unless Japan pulls out its forces, but Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said on Wednesday that the Japanese troops would remain in the country. Machimura told reporters that Koda was identified through fingerprints sent from Japanese Embassy officials to the Foreign Ministry Tokyo. The kidnappers posted a video on a Web site that showed the Japanese hostage wearing a white T-shirt and sitting at the feet of three masked men. One of the captors said in a statement; “We are giving the Japanese government 48 hours in which to withdraw its troops from Iraq, otherwise this infidel will join the others (executed).”

Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi sent his condolences to the Japanese hostage’s family, saying that he has a feeling of indignation over the killing. “It is an evil act of terrorism to kill innocent civilians. We feel deep indignation and we can never forgive this terrorist act,” Koizumi said. Koizumi also vowed to keep Japanese troops in Iraq. “We cannot lose to terrorism, we must not yield to brute force. I believe we should continue to support the Iraqi people’s efforts to rebuild their country,” Koizumi told reporters. The United States is urging Koizumi to stand firm and not to bow to any threat. “We strongly condemn this heinous crime. There is no justification for acts like this,” U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard H. Baker Jr. said in a statement. When asked about what would be done about Japanese forces in Iraq, Machimura said that the government hasn’t decided on that yet.

Update (11/2 1125): Zarqawi Releases Beheading Video of Japanese Victim

Rusty Shackleford has the video of the beheading along with some gruesome photos.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.