Mother of Isis Japanese hostage pleads for son's life as 72 hour ransom deadline expires

National broadcaster reports Isis saying it will release statement 'soon'

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The Independent Online

The mother of a Japanese hostage being threatened with execution by Isis has pleaded with the Government to save her son’s life as a 72-hour ransom deadline expired.

Junko Ishido, the mother of 47-year-old journalist Kenji Goto, made a tearful appeal on behalf of her son as the $200 million (£133m) ransom deadline demanded by Isis for Mr Goto and another hostage, Haruna Yukawa, drew closer.

A video emerged on Tuesday showing a black-clad militant wielding a knife and threatening to execute both men if the Japanese Government did not pay the ransom.

Tokyo believes the 72 hours expired at 5.50am GMT on Friday, according to AFP.

"My son is not an enemy of the Islamic State," she told a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.

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Japanese journalist Kenji Goto speaking about the Middle East at a public event in Tokyo

Ms Ishido, 76, said Mr Goto's newborn child needs his father.

Between tears, she also apologised repeatedly for "all the trouble my son has caused".

“I can only pray as a mother for his release,” she continued. “If I could offer my life I would plead that my son be released. It would be a small sacrifice on my part.”

Her plea came as the national broadcaster NHK claimed early Friday that it had received a message from Isis "public relations" saying that a statement would be released soon.

yukuwa.jpgMr Goto's mother said her son went to Syria to try to secure a friend's release, corroborating comments by others who said he was trying to rescue Mr Yukawa, who was taken hostage earlier.

"Ever since before he learned to walk, my son has been kind to all of the children he knew," said Ms Ishida.

"My son felt he had to do everything in his power to try to rescue a friend and acquaintance."

Japan says it has tried every option to contact the militants, but all attempts have been unsuccessful. 

The Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and other Japanese officials have not directly confirmed whether Japan would pay a ransom to free both men.

However, when asked whether the British Prime Minister had urged Mr Abe to resist pressure to hand over a ransom to the kidnappers, a spokeswoman for Downing Street said on Thursday: "The Japanese signed up at our G8 summit in Lough Erne to the policy of not paying ransoms to terrorists for kidnap and they stand by that and it was reiterated."

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