World Bulletin / News Desk
The mother of one of two Japanese hostages threatened with execution by ISIL militants has made an emotional appeal for his release, telling reporters Friday that his motivation for being in the region was humanitarian.
“My son is not an enemy of Islamic State,” the Japan Times reported Junko Ishido as telling a packed Tokyo news conference. “If I could offer my life I would plead that my son be released. It would be a small sacrifice on my part.”
In a video released Tuesday, a masked man ordered Japan to pay a $200 million ransom within 72 hours to secure the release of freelance journalist Kenji Goto and another man. Japanese government sources have told Kyodo news agency they were unclear when the deadline would expire but later said they believed it was 2.50 p.m. Friday (0550GMT).
Reports have said that Goto, 47, had travelled to Syria to find and ask for the release of Haruna Yukawa, a security contractor reportedly captured in August, when he was taken.
Occasionally wiping away tears, the 76-year-old mother apologized for any trouble her son had caused, saying that his motivation for visiting Syria was a simple humanitarian desire to report from troubled parts of the world and help in the release of a colleague.
"He thought that if he could speak directly to ISIL he could make them understand… I am asking ISIL from the bottom of my heart to let him go. He is not in any way an enemy.”
She said that she knew very little about ISIL, and invited any Muslim children who wanted to come to Japan for tourism or study to stay at her home.
National broadcaster NHK reported early Friday that it had received a message from ISIL "public relations" saying that a statement would be released soon.
As of 7.30 a.m. GMT, no report of the hostages’ condition had been received.
ISIL has captured large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, later declaring the territories under its control an Islamic caliphate.
The group also holds British journalist John Cantlie and a 26-year-old American female aid worker.