The mother of freelance journalist Kenji Goto was overwhelmed with sorrow at the apparent murder of her son by the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), saying, "All I can do now is shed tears of grief."
Junko Ishido, 78, was choked with tears Sunday as she said, "Kenji has departed from this life." She seemed to be emotionally and physically exhausted as she commented on her son's apparent death.
According to Ishido's husband, she collapsed face down on a piece of furniture after learning at about 5 a.m. on Sunday that footage was being broadcast on TV by the group to announce Goto's murder.
Journalist Akira Ikegami described the incident as "truly shocking." With tears in his voice, Ikegami said, "All I can think of now is his smile."
Ikegami had been in regular contact with Goto.
"Mr. Goto always said he wanted to report on the suffering of people in conflict-torn regions. He also said someone had to go there," Ikegami said.
Ikegami said Goto told him that the first victims of war are women and children.
"Mr. Goto always turned gentle eyes toward them," he said. "He was not hostile toward ISIL. It really is unforgivable [for the group] to kill a person dedicated to reporting on the tragic state of affairs [facing people in war-torn areas]."
Maki Sato, secretary general of the Tokyo-based nonprofit organisation Japan Iraq Medical Network, also did not conceal her shock and fury. Sato became acquainted with Goto about 10 years ago through activities to support Jordan.
"I'm so shocked. Mr. Goto was working to promote peace in Syria. I don't understand why he had to be killed," Sato said.
Hoping Goto would be released, more than 40,000 people had posted photos of themselves with signs reading "I am Kenji" on Facebook and Twitter as of Sunday morning.
The Facebook movement was initiated by Taku Nishimae, chief of a video production company, who had known Goto for 10 years.
"I can't believe this. I've never felt despair and anger like this before. The wish for Goto's release had been spreading across the world," Nishimae said.