Two Japanese men have been threatened with death by the Islamic State group if their government doesn’t pay a huge ransom. A look at hostages and Japan and the country’s interests in the Middle East:
Who are the hostages?
One seems obsessed with weapons and military goods. The other is a freelance journalist who has reported on children in war-torn areas. Their paths have crossed previously.
Haruna Yukawa, 42, set up a company in January 2014 to offer security services in conflict areas, after running an online business selling military-related items. He went to Syria to train with militants, according to a post on his blog, and posted pictures on Facebook showing him in Iraq and Syria in July. One Facebook video shows him holding a Kalashnikov assault rifle with the caption: “Syria war in Aleppo 2014.” In his blog and Facebook entries, Yukawa said he wanted to do something for the people suffering in war-torn Syria. He said in his blog in 2013 that he once tried to commit suicide as he was depressed by a series of troubles. A believer of spiritualism, Yukawa says he believes he was an actress in a previous life.
Kenji Goto, 47, set up his Independent Press video news company in 1996, covering mainly conflicts, refugees, poverty and children’s education while traveling in war-torn countries. He has contributed reports to major Japanese media, including public broadcaster NHK and TV’s Asahi. He has also worked with U.N. organizations, including UNICEF and UNHCR, and other nonprofit groups, according to his profile on his company site. In an email sent to an Associated Press reporter in early October, Goto said he was in Syria for reporting.