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Japanese ISIS Hostages: Goto Went to Syria To Search for Yukawa

A Japanese journalist held hostage by ISIS extremists traveled into Syria to search for his friend shortly before going missing himself, a guide says.

TOKYO — A Japanese journalist who was captured by ISIS reportedly entered Syria to find the missing friend he later appeared alongside in a video demanding a $200-million ransom.

A guide who says he met Kenji Goto told Japanese broadcaster NHK on Wednesday that the reporter was trying "to get some news or information" about Haruna Yakawa, who had vanished in August.

The guide said Goto had asked "two or three times before" to be taken across the Turkish border to Syria.

"I [told] him, 'Don't go, please. It’s not safe for you," the guide said, recalling a conversation on Oct. 25.

In an ISIS video released Tuesday, Goto and Yukawa were shown handcuffed and in orange T-shirts with a black-clad militant threatening to kill them within 72 hours if a $200-million ransom is not paid. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would not say whether it would pay the ransom, although Deputy Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama was dispatched to Jordan to seek the country's support in resolving the hostage crisis.

NHK also showed a message from Goto himself that was filmed by the guide. "My name is Kenji Goto, I am a journalist," he said in Japanese on the video. "I am about to embark on a trip to Raqqa," he said, referring to the ISIS stronghold in Syria. "Because it very dangerous, whatever happens, I will not blame the people of Syria. I urge the Japanese people not to demand Syrians to take responsibility. But I will definitely come back alive."

A still from an ISIS video released on Tuesday.ISIS Video


— Arata Yamamoto and F. Brinley Bruton

The Associated Press contributed to this report.