The PJ Tatler

Japan Runs Out of Time: ISIS Beheads Kenji Goto

A Japanese man held by Islamic State has been executed, according to an online video release from a media source that terrorists have used in the past.

The headless body of journalist Kenji Goto was displayed in a short video which was accompanied by English language commentary from “Jihadi John,” a British terrorist who has appeared in several of the execution videos.

The Japanese had been locked in desperate negotiations with the terrorists, hoping that they would accept a prisoner exchange of an Iraqi female terrorist held by Jordan for Goto and a Jordanian air force pilot shot down in December. But the Jordanians wouldn’t release the woman until they had proof of life for their pilot and a guarantee that he and Goto would be released. They received neither from Islamic State.


“We are deeply saddened by this despicable and horrendous act of terrorism and we denounce it in the strongest terms,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in Tokyo, according to broadcaster NHK. “To the terrorists, we will never, never forgive them for this act.”

He said that Japan will continue to provide monetary aid to countries affected by the bloody fight against ISIS.

The video opens with a black slate that reads, “A Message to Japan.” The video then shows a kneeling Goto wearing an orange outfit. The man known as “Jihadi John” is standing behind him.

The terrorist speaks while holding a knife in his left hand.

“Abe, because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin,” the man says.

The video cuts to black as the militant puts the knife to Goto’s throat. It then shows the apparent result of the decapitation. It’s not clear who conducted the apparent killing.

The knife-wielding masked man with a London accent, nicknamed “Jihadi John,” has issued threats and overseen the beheadings of other captives. He has appeared in at least six videos with hostages.

The fate of a Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS in Syria, Muath al-Kaseasbeh, was unclear. He is not mentioned in the video.

ISIS had been demanding that Jordan exchange a convicted terrorist, Sajida al-Rishawi, for the pilot. If there was no swap, ISIS said it would kill al-Kaseasbeh first, then Goto.

There was a lot of self restraint shown in Japanese media during the hostage crisis, which is typical in a society that values other people’s feelings so highly:

The restraint shown by broadcasters and other media during the unfolding hostage drama has spilled over into politics as opposition lawmakers, mindful of the crisis, toned down their criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his team. When dozens of lawmakers appeared in their traditional kimonos this week to mark the opening of the annual session, they were attacked on blogs and social networks for looking too festive and insensitive.

The hostage crisis broke out on Jan. 20, with the release of an online video showing the two hostages with a black masked man wielding a knife, demanding $200 million ransom in exchange for their lives.

Not wanting to be seen as insensitive — a huge faux pas in a society that holds consideration for others in high esteem — Japanese broadcasters quickly screened out any buzzwords and related images, all in the name of “jishuku,” or self-imposed control.

In the latest example of self-censorship, a production team for an animation comedy “Detective Opera Milky Holmes TD” said Friday that it has decided to suspend its fifth episode for being “inappropriate.” The episode was entitled “Carol’s ransom.”

The popular male pop group KAT-TUN was supposed to sing its new song “Dead or Alive” on TV Asahi’s Music Station show on Jan. 23, but instead performed “White Lovers.” Another band, “Ling tosite sigure,” altered lyrics that included the words “knife” and “blood.”

Would that western media outlets were at least partly as restrained.

No one knows how many more hostages are held by Islamic State, but it’s a safe bet that future execution dramas will be even more drawn out and agonizing. IS has developed a taste for teasing the western media with the possibility that the hostage will return home safe and sound, only to brutally behead them. The end result is giving the terrorist exactly what they want: a platform to recruit new members while making the western powers look impotent.