The father of Japanese hostage, Haruna Yakawa, has reacted to the ISIS beheading claim, telling reporters that he was “hoping deep in my heart” his son was still alive.
Although Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, said the video showing the beheading of 42-year-old Haruna Yukawa was likely authentic, the hostage’s father isn’t completely giving up hope that his son may still be alive.
“My mind went totally blank. I am hoping deep in my heart that it is not true. If I am ever reunited with him, I just want to give him a big hug.”
Mr Yukawa was kidnapped by ISIS last year, and had seemingly disappeared until a recent video emerged, demanding that the Japanese government pay $200 million in exchange for his release. ISIS had set a deadline for payment of 72 hours.
Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, told Japanese broadcaster NHK that the beheading claim was “abominable” and “unforgivable” and demanded the immediate release of the remaining Japanese hostage, Kenji Goto.
In the video released on Saturday, a voice claimed to be Goto’s says that Shinzo Abe is to blame for Yukawa’s death.
“You were given a deadline.”
Goto then reads the new conditions demanded by ISIS in order to spare his life; the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a woman arrested in Jordan in 2005 for her part in a series of deadly attacks which killed dozens at Jordanian hotels. Rishawi aimed to kill as many men, women and children as possible, but failed to detonate her suicide vest in a hotel ballroom.
“They no longer want money, so you don’t need to worry about funding terrorists. They are just demanding the release of their imprisoned sister Sajida al-Rishawi.”
Mr. Abe has declined to comment directly on the prisoner exchange request in the ISIS beheading video, but confirmed his government is still working on the situation.
“I am left speechless,” he said. “We strongly and totally criticize such acts.”
President Obama and Secretary of State, John Kerry have also expressed their condolences and condemned the ISIS beheading claim, with Obama adding that the U.S. will work “to bring the perpetrators of these murders to justice and will continue to take decisive action to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIS.”
“America has known this pain and horror ourselves, and we stand with Japan not just in sadness, but in solidarity and strength.”
With the latest ISIS beheading claim appearing to be genuine, Mr Yukawa’s grieving father said he hoped Mr Goto would be released safely.
“I hope for that. And not a minute too soon,” he said.
[Image Via thetimes.co.uk]