Two more Japanese missing in Iraq found

Two Japanese nationals, a freelance journalist and an NGO aid worker, who had been taken captive in Iraq, were released in Baghdad on April 17.

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi on the same day said to reporters, "I feel relieved and delighted that the two were freed unharmed."

Referring to the argument that the five Japanese civilians who had been taken hostage or captive recently in Iraq should take responsibility for what had happened to them, Ichida said, "I do not think punitive approaches to treat them as assailants are appropriate."

Foreign Minister Kawaguchi Yoriko in a published statement on the same day said, "Individuals should be aware of the principle of taking responsibility for their own safety and their own behavior."

Participants in the April 18 rally in Tokyo's Shibuya in protest against the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq criticized the government theory of self-responsibility.

A woman with her baby in a stroller said, "The government raises the self-responsibility of the five, but if those who go abroad to help support people cannot go, Japan will be a sad society. Is it OK for our society to hide because it's dangerous?"

About 1,000 people marched in demonstration calling for a withdrawal of Japan's Self-Defense Forces from Iraq.

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Morizumi Takashi, a photojournalist who has kept working for the hostages' rescue said, "Many people have been killed in Fallujah. Journalists cannot overlook what's going on there and are compelled to go there to take photos."

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The Japan Photographers Union, a craft union for freelance photographers, published a statement on April 16 pointing out that activities of freelance journalists and photographers help heighten the people's awareness of their right to know what is going on.

The union requested that the government consider a way for journalists and civilians to be able to carry out goodwill activities more safely. It said that it's regrettable that the government blamed the hostages for their non-compliance with the evacuation order even though they had not yet been released.

The group also said that verbal abuse of the families of the hostages is incompatible with a democratic society. (end)

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