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Journalist's Insight on Hostage Case

Freelance journalist Eiko Tamamoto has been reporting on Islamic State from Syria and Iraq. Now she is in Arbil, northern Iraq.

Local media in northern Iraq haven't given this incident wide coverage. But some Iraqis, especially young people, have learned about it through the Internet. Many citizens were shocked that Islamic State had taken two Japanese hostages. They're expressing concern and hope for their release.

I have no information on how Kenji Goto entered the area controlled by Islamic State militants. In October, the group took part in a fierce battle with Kurdish forces around Syria's border with Turkey. So Goto may have entered the area amid the confusion that followed.

I do know that Goto was always trying to report news from the perspective of children, ordinary people, and those facing difficulties.

And I can say that he is not an enemy of Islamic State. He is no one's enemy. I am very worried about him.

The leaders of Islamic State may have gotten the idea that Japan is part of the "crusade," and subordinate to Western countries. I believe now that most people do not share this view.

I am afraid that this view of Japan held by the leadership might spread.

But there's another thing: refugees who fled from Islamic State told me that people are forced to live in difficult conditions under the group.

They also said that the militants sometimes fight among themselves. People, including soldiers under Islamic State, are becoming more impoverished. So I think the militants are demanding the ransom partially because of their economic situation.

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