Slain Japan hostage's 'calm' tweet goes viral

Slain Japan hostage's 'calm' tweet goes viral
People look at a large TV screen in Tokyo on January 20, 2015 showing news reports about two Japanese men (in orange) who have been kidnapped by the Islamic State group.

TOKYO - A poignant tweet by murdered journalist Kenji Goto on the virtue of being calm spread rapidly on social media yesterday, days after he was apparently beheaded by Islamist militants.

"Close your eyes and remain patient. It's over once you get angry or yell. It is almost like praying. Hating is not the role of humans; judgment is God's domain," Mr Goto's four-year-old tweet read. "It was my Arab brothers who taught me this," he tweeted in Japanese on Sept 7, 2010.

By yesterday morning, the message had been retweeted more than 31,000 times in Japanese, with English versions also widely circulated.

His brutal execution by militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) movement has provoked an outpouring of emotion in Japan, a country that previously considered itself far-removed from the violence that afflicts Western nations facing off against Islamist militants.

In a statement on Sunday, his mother cautioned against this emotion becoming destructive. "I believe this sorrow must not create a chain of hatred," said Junko Ishido.

Mr Goto's killing was announced in a video posted on Saturday by ISIS militants, and came a week after his friend and fellow captive Haruna Yukawa was beheaded.

The 47-year-old freelance journalist, who established his own video production company in 1996, had supplied documentaries on the Middle East and other regions to Japanese television networks.

Much of his work had focused on the plight of children in war zones.

The hostage drama erupted after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged US$200 million (S$270 million) in aid, for refugees fleeing ISIS-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq, during a tour of the Middle East last month.

The militants initially demanded the same sum in exchange for Mr Goto and Mr Yukawa, whom it had been holding for months. After beheading Mr Yukawa, the group switched its demand to the release of a failed female suicide bomber - Sajida Al-Rishawi on death row in Jordan - in exchange for Mr Goto.

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