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Shosei Koda (香田 証生, Kōda Shōsei, 29 November 1979 – 29 October 2004) was a Japanese citizen who was kidnapped and later beheaded in Iraq on 29 October 2004, by Zarqawi's group, while touring the country. He was the first Japanese person beheaded in Iraq.[1]

Shosei Koda
Beheading japanese.jpg
Koda shortly before his beheading
Born(1979-11-29)29 November 1979
Died29 October 2004(2004-10-29) (aged 24)
Cause of deathMurder by decapitation
Parent(s)Setsuko Koda
Masumi Koda

Early life and educationEdit

Koda's parents, Setsuko Koda and Masumi Koda, were members of the United Church of Christ.[2] Due to Koda's family affiliation with the United Church of Christ, a cross tattoo was inscribed upon his arm.[3] The family was from Nōgata, Fukuoka, a small southern city in Japan,[4] and his mother was a nurse. Koda dropped out of high school in his junior year before he started working as an interior painter until 2002.[4]

Kidnapping and deathEdit

Koda left Amman on 20 October 2004.[4] He ignored advice not to travel to Iraq, and entered the country, because he wanted to know what was happening there.[5][6]

Koda's captors stated that they would "treat him like his predecessors Berg and Bigley"[7] (Bigley was murdered just weeks before by the organization, before being known as Al Qaeda in Iraq) if Japan did not withdraw its forces from Iraq within 48 hours. The Japanese government headed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi refused to comply with these demands, stating that they will not concede to terrorists.[8]

In the video sequence of Koda's murder, Koda sits on the American flag, his captors standing behind him. Koda's hands are tied behind his back. He is blindfolded while a captor reads a speech for two minutes and ten seconds. The captors then hold him down on the ground as they begin to decapitate him. Throughout the beheading, "Erhaby Ana", a nasheed, is played. The video sequence ends with shots of Koda's severed head on top of his body followed by shots of the banner of al-Qaeda in Iraq. His body was found in Baghdad on 30 October wrapped in an American flag.[9]


Koda's body was returned to Japan.[9] He was given a Christian funeral.[2] The events provoked mixed responses in Japan; while many Japanese citizens were angered and appalled by the murder, some blamed the victim and others criticized the Koizumi administration.[10]

Koda's given name, Shōsei, literally means "proof of life" in Japanese. Mark Simkin of the Australian television news program Lateline said that this was an "awful irony" for people who had prayed for Koda's survival for four days.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Shosei Koda was the first Japanese killed in Iraq". Pravda. 31 October 2004. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Death Not in Vain: Son of Japanese Christian Parents Kidnapped and Killed by Militants in Baghdad." Japan Christian Activity News Fall/Winter 2004. (Archive) National Christian Council in Japan. ISSN 0021-4353. Number 737 (Northern Hemisphere) Fall/Winter 2004. 6 (6/20). Retrieved on 7 March 2011.
  3. ^ On the kidnapping affair of Shosei Koda (in Japanese)
  4. ^ a b c "Shosei Koda". Khaleej Times. Tokyo. AFP. 31 October 2004. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  5. ^ ""Japanese hostage in Iraq believed to be civilian traveler"". Archived from the original on 30 October 2004. Retrieved 2010-01-06.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link). China Daily. 27 October 2004. Retrieved on 7 March 2011.
  6. ^ "Was Koda just silly or was his curiosity justified? Young people have their say". The Japan Times. 29 October 2004. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011.
  7. ^ "Group seizes Japanese man in Iraq". BBC. 27 October 2004. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  8. ^ Roberts, Joel. "Report: Japanese Hostage Killed." CBS News. 29 October 2004. Retrieved on 7 March 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Beheaded Japanese to be flown home". CNN. Tokyo. 1 November 2004. Archived from the original on 2 November 2004. Retrieved 2 November 2004.
  10. ^ a b Simkin, Mark. "Mixed reaction to Japanese beheading in Iraq." Lateline. 1 November 2004. Retrieved on 7 March 2011.

External linksEdit