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Mother Pleads For ISIS To Release Japanese Hostages As Deadline Looms

Japanese officials have said they will not give in to terrorism after ISIS demanded $200 million for the lives of two Japanese men. One of their mothers, though, made an emotional plea as the deadline neared.

Posted on January 22, 2015, at 10:37 p.m. ET

The mother of a Japanese journalist held by ISIS asked for his life to be spared as a deadline for his ransom neared on Friday.

Toru Hanai / Reuters

Junko Ishido is the mother of Kenji Goto, a Japanese journalist being held captive by ISIS militants along with another Japanese citizen. She spoke at a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on Friday.

A video purported to show Goto, 47, with another Japanese man, Haruna Yukawa, 42, on Tuesday.


A man with a knife threatened to kill the hostages if ISIS did not receive $200 million from the Japanese government within 72 hours.

As the deadline neared Friday, Ishido spoke at a packed news conference.

Toru Hanai / Reuters

"My son Kenji is not an enemy of the people of the Islamic faith. I can only pray as a mother for his release," she said, according to Reuters. "If I could offer my life I would plead that my son be released, it would be a small sacrifice on my part.

Goto, an independent journalist with experience in war zones, had met Yukawa as the man attempted to start a business providing private security in the Middle East. Yukawa was taken captive in Syria in August, and Goto returned to the region in October to try to help his friend, Reuters reported. He left only two weeks after his wife gave birth, his mother told reporters.

"He only went to rescue his friend. He has always looked out for weaker people, he was always helping weaker children than him," Ishido said on Friday.

Ishido also asked for help from Japan's government, but officials have said they will not give in to terrorists.

Yuya Shino / Reuters

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said their lives are a top priority.

On Friday, government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga added authorities are trying all channels to reach the hostages, the Associated Press reported.

"We are doing our very best to coordinate with related parties, including through tribal chiefs," Suga said.

Seventy-two hours will elapse at 12:50 a.m. ET Friday.

"Time is running out. Please, Japanese government, save my son's life," Ishido said.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.