01/21/2015, 00.00
SYRIA - ISLAM - JAPAN
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One of the two Japanese men held and threatened of death by the Islamic State in Syria is Christian

Kenji Goto Jogo, a freelance journalist, who converted in the 90s, belongs to the United Church of Christ. For his pastor, he is a good man, "devoted to reporting what should be reported [. . .] conscious of vulnerable people". He is being held by terrorists along with Haruna Yukawa for a US$ 200 million ransom. Shinzo Abe said Japan would do everything to free them.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) - Kenji Goto Jogo, a Japanese freelance journalist held by the Islamic state along with fellow Japanese Haruna Yukawa, is a good man with "a strong sense of justice," someone who is "devoted to reporting what should be reported [. . .] conscious of vulnerable people", said Christian pastor Hiroshi Tamura, head of the church to which Goto belongs.

Terrorists are demanding a US$ 200 million ransom to be paid "within 72 hours", or they would execute the prisoners.

The video with the demand was posted online yesterday. In it, the two Japanese men can be seen kneeling, wearing an orange jumpsuit, guarded by an armed jihadist.

Meeting the press this morning, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that his government would do everything to free them, but he did say whether they would pay the ransom money.

Haruna Yukawa was fighting with Suqour al-Sham, a Syrian opposition group, when he was captured in August 2014.

Kenji Goto Jogo, a freelance journalist with Independent Press, an agency that supplies stories to Japanese media from conflicts around the world, is thought to have been taken last October.

Kenji Goto was baptised in the 1990s. His church belongs to the United Church of Christ, the largest Protestant denomination in Japan with about 200,000 members.

"He has a strong sense of justice," said Hiroshi Tamura, pastor at the Chofu church, "and he has always been conscious of vulnerable people, including children."

At a press conference in Jerusalem, where is on a state visit, Mr Abe said he was "indignant" and felt "strong resentment" at the death threats.

"Extremism and Islam are completely different things," he added, noting that "The international community will not give in to any form of terrorism and we have to make sure that we work together."

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