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    New Japanese abductee in Iraq

    A Japanese national has been abducted in Iraq, as the Yomiuri‘s Cairo bureau appears to have found out from Reuters (whose current story on the subject is here). The Asahi gives his name as Akihito Saito.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs received word at 5:30 a.m. today from the British security firm Hart Security, Ltd., that Akihiko Saito (44), who was working as a consultant at its Iraq office, has been attacked and that his whereabouts are unknown.

    The article says that the report was specifically received by the 対策本部 (taisaku-honbu: “measures [taken in response to a situation]” + “head office”), which is the division of Foreign Ministry headquarters that deals with reports of attacks on Japanese citizens abroad. It’s chaired directly by Nobutaka Machimura, the Foreign Minister. Machimura and the Ministry of Defense have stated that they have received no demands from the abductors and that there are no plans to change Japan’s Iraq policy in response.

    The Asahi reports that the terrorist (“militant” if you’re just coming back from the Reuters link and need a minute to adjust) group Ansar al-Sunna has posted an image of Saito’s passport on its website and stated that he was seriously injured in an ambush on a vehicle that had just left the Assad US Army Base. Of the 17 people captured, including 12 Iraqis, all but Saito have been killed. (The way it’s phrase, it looks as if they were executed after capture, not killed in the attack on the vehicles itself.)

    2 Responses to “New Japanese abductee in Iraq”

    1. Eric Scheie says:

      Good work in reporting this. I didn’t see it anywhere else. Hope he’s freed or released and that his captors meet their just fate.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Not much more happening with it today, I don’t think. His younger brother has made a statement, but I haven’t seen any updates on his situation. The Asahi did run an interesting story about the kind of work Saito was doing; there’s an English version here.

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