AFP: A Japanese envoy headed to Iran on Tuesday in an effort to secure the freedom of a backpacking university student kidnapped by bandits near the border with Pakistan. TOKYO (AFP) A Japanese envoy headed to Iran on Tuesday in an effort to secure the freedom of a backpacking university student kidnapped by bandits near the border with Pakistan.
Senior vice foreign minister Itsunori Onodera will visit Iran until Friday to discuss an “early and safe release” of 23-year-old Satoshi Nakamura with key government officials, his ministry said.
Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said Iran had informed Japan that “the hostage was confirmed safe” as of late Sunday and asked that Tokyo allow Tehran to handle the situation.
“Please trust the Iranian government. Please refrain from making contact” to the kidnappers, Komura quoted the Iranian side as saying.
Nakamura had been travelling alone in southeastern Iran after a stint teaching Japanese and English in Nepal with a volunteer group.
He was kidnapped a week ago as he headed from his hotel for the ancient mud-built citadel of Bam, which was one of Iran’s main tourist draws until it was destroyed in a 2003 earthquake that killed 31,000 people.
A trickle of foreign tourists are still visiting the area, despite warnings from governments about the risks of travel in the region.
A bandit named Esmail Shahbakhsh has been blamed for the kidnapping and is asking for the release of his arrested son in exchange for Nakamura, an Iranian report said.
The bandit is said to be the same man whose gang in August abducted two Belgian tourists who were later freed.
Nakamura’s father on Monday made a public plea for his son’s release, saying the student had good intentions.