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TOKYO, Japan - The mother of a Japanese journalist held hostage by ISIS made an emotional appeal for his safety Friday, revealing he had recently become a father as a ransom deadline passed with no word on his fate.
"Time is running out,” Kenji Goto’s mother Junko Ishido told a news conference. “To the government of Japan: please save Kenji’s life.”
Goto is one of two Japanese hostages threated with execution unless Japan pays ISIS a ransom of $200 million. Goto's friend Haruna Yukawa was captured in August outside the Syrian city of Aleppo. Goto, 47, a war correspondent, went to Syria in late October to try to help him.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said saving the men's lives is paramount but that Japan will not bow to terrorism.
“Kenji is not an enemy of [ISIS],” Ishido said. “I ask for his release and assure that he went into the Islamic world of his own accord.”
She revealed that Goto had left behind a pregnant partner who had since given birth, and expressed mixed emotions.
“Yesterday I spoke for the first time to the woman who called herself his wife and what surprised me was that she gave birth to his child and it has only been two weeks,” Ishido said. “I felt angry at Kenji. Why would he leave an infant? Even if he says it is for his friend, only a parent can protect a two-week-old child."
She added: "Kenji was very thoughtful towards his parents, so he never contacted me before he left. I think that is because ... he didn't want me to worry."
She also said she had “not heard a word” from the Japanese government about her son’s fate.
- Arata Yamamoto
Reuters contributed to this report.