Japanese ISIS Hostage Described as a Hero, ‘Gentle Man’

January 29, 2015 Updated: January 29, 2015

Kenji Goto, the freelance journalist who was captured by the Islamic State, or ISIS, is being described as a hero by a media watchdog group.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Goto, 47, has displayed “courage and commitment to broadcasting humane stories from some of the world’s most dangerous conflict zones would put him at the pinnacle of his profession anywhere in the world.”

It added, “It was such courage that took him to Syria last year, where he was taken hostage.”

ISIS issued a deadline for Jordan to deliver convicted terrorist Sajida al-Rishawi to the Turkish border by 5:30 p.m. local time. After the deadline passed, it’s unclear what happened to another ISIS captive, Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh, and Goto. Goto had been delivering messages about Kassasbeh in recent days.

Henry Tricks of CPJ wrote that he met “Goto in 2010 when I was bureau chief for The Economist in Tokyo,” adding that he “is a much-loved father, who has three children. It is hard to reconcile the soft-spoken, gentle man, who once paled in a bowling alley because the sound of the balls reminded him of bombs dropping on Iraq, with the image of a hardened war correspondent.”

“But he covers wars with a difference. Instead of focusing on who is winning or losing, he tells the stories of ordinary people, especially children, who are forced to endure conflict and the horrors surrounding them. It is their resilience that inspires him, he says. When you ask how he reaches the dangerous places he reports from, he says he follows the footsteps of normal people getting on with their lives. They show him the way,” Tricks added.

On Wednesday, Goto’s wife issued a plea to ISIS to release him.

“My name is Rinko. I am the wife of Kenji Goto, the journalist who is being held by a group in Syria. He was taken from me on 25 October 2014, and since then I have been working tirelessly behind the scenes for his release,” his wife wrote on Rory Peck Trust, an international NGO that supports freelance journalists.

Rinko further described how she’s feeling.

“I have not spoken out until now as I have been trying to protect my children and family from the media attention Kenji’s plight has created around the world,” she said. “My husband and I have two very young daughters. Our baby girl was only three weeks old when Kenji left. I hope our oldest daughter, who is just two, will get to see her father again. I want them both to grow up knowing their father.”