Mr. Nobutaka Machimura, Minister for Foreign Affairs, issued today the following statement in an interview with Aljazeera TV, APTN, Reuters and CNN International.

October 27, 200

To the members of the group who have taken a Japanese person hostage.

I am Nobutaka Machimura, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan.
Japan is Iraq's friend, and the people of Japan have both respect and friendship for the people of Iraq. For many years, Japan has actively cooperated in the nation building of Iraq, including building hospitals and schools. Even as I speak Japan is assisting the reconstruction efforts of the people of Iraq. Japan's Self Defense Forces have also been dispatched to assist such reconstruction efforts.

The Government of Japan is also exerting its full diplomatic efforts to promote international cooperation for the nation building of Iraq. Two weeks ago a meeting on the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq was held in Tokyo, with the participation of 53 countries and 4 international organizations.

The people of Japan are shocked that a Japanese national should be taken hostage, and are hoping for the release of the hostage as early as possible. The distress of Mr. Shosei Koda's family in particular is indeed profound. Mr. Koda is a private individual, who is not related to the Self Defense Forces or the Government of Japan. Japan is Iraq's friend. The entire Japanese nation and I are pleading for the immediate release of Mr. Shosei Koda.

(END)


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