Japan rejects demand to pull out forces from Iraq
An Iraqi group linked to al-Qaeda network threatened in a video posted on a website Tuesday to behead a Japanese hostage within 48 hours unless Japan withdraws its forces from Iraq.
In Japan, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi rejected the demand on Wednesday, stating he will not tolerate or succumb to "terrorism."
The hostage's family identified him as Shosei Koda, 24, of Nogata, Fukuoka Prefecture, Chief Cabinet Secretary, Hiroyuki Hosoda, told a press conference in Tokyo, according to Kyodo News.
Koda said in English his captors were asking why the Japanese government broke the law and dispatched troops to Iraq. He then conveyed a message to Koizumi in Japanese.
"Mr. Koizumi, they are calling on the Japanese government to withdraw Japan's Self-Defense Forces," Koda said. "They are saying they will cut off my head otherwise. I am sorry. I want to return to Japan again."
One of the kidnappers then read a statement, demanding the Japanese government pull out its soldiers from Iraq in 48 hours or the fate of Koda will be the same as that of "his infidel predecessors Berg and Bigley."
The captors stated the hostage entered Iraq after visiting Israel and Jordan.
In Baghdad, the Japanese Embassy asked the Iraqi government for cooperation in gathering information about Koda, an embassy official said. (albawaba.com)