Death of Kenji Goto

On January 31, 2015, ISIS has reportedly beheaded yet another Japanese hostage, Kenji Goto.

“Please understand his kindness and courage.”


On January 31, 2015, ISIS has reportedly beheaded yet another Japanese hostage, Kenji Goto. Kenji Goto, a freelance video journalist who traveled to conflict zones, was held hostage in Syria by the Islamic State militants (ISIS or ISIL) since October 2014, when he had attempted to rescue another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa. A few weeks prior to this killing, the Islamic State militants had given Japan an opportunity to save the life of its Japanese hostages. The extremist group set a deadline by which a $200 million ransom was to be sent to them. The ransom was equal in value to the amount of aid Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe had promised to provide to the countries fighting against the Islamic State. However, prime minister Abe ultimately did not give in to terrorism, leaving Goto and other Japanese hostages with no way out.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after a press conference with Palestine’s president Mahmud Abbas | c. Getty Images

Consequently, with the offer rejected and the deadline passed, the execution of Goto was carried on by the ISIS militant who has come to be known as Jihadi John. While proceeding with the slaughter, Jihadi John threatened that due to prime minister Abe’s dissension, the ”knife will not only slaughter Kenji” but “carry on and cause carnage wherever [the Japanese] are found.” Illustrating their firmness, the Islamic State then showed video clips of the warning, the beginnings of the gruesome knife violence, and afterwards, an image of Goto’s decapitated body and severed head.


Called by the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga as “a terrorist act of extreme brutality”, the killing had resounding effects all over the world. Sympathetic and incensed reactions were global, and United States President Barack Obama lauded the valor of Goto while severely condemning the incident as a “heinous murder.” Now titled the 9/11 of the Japanese, this unfortunate happening has proven, as a political scientist of the University of Tokyo said, that “we now realize we face the same dangers as other countries do.”

– Emily Kim (’16)

Header: SCMP

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