Once again, we are seeing the dreaded orange jumpsuits on our television screens during the news. Once again, it appears that we have an Islamic State video threatening the lives of hostages, if a Western power does not give the terrorists what they want.
This time, it's Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who is facing the threats made by the YouTube-seeking terrorist with the British accent.
And who are the two hostages? What are there stories and, this time around, will journalists dig into the poignant details?
In The Washington Post, readers were told early on:
Japanese officials declined to discuss whether they would consider paying for the release of the hostages: journalist Kenji Goto Jogo and self-styled military consultant Haruna Yukawa.
The Post team doesn't tell us much about Goto, but is truly interested in the details of the story behind the "self-styled" -- what a loaded term -- military consultant.
Goto, 47, a well-respected Japanese journalist, was last heard from Oct. 24. He had told friends he was traveling to Kobane, a flashpoint town on the Turkish-Syrian border, but it is unclear exactly where he was kidnapped while covering Syria’s multiple conflicts.
And Yukawa? That's another story:
Yukawa had suffered a series of misfortunes: His wife died of lung cancer, then he went bankrupt and lost his home and his business, the Reuters news agency reported. He apparently went on a voyage of self-discovery, changing his name to the more feminine Haruna, attempting to kill himself by cutting off his genitals, and claiming to be the reincarnation of a cross-dressing Manchu princess who had spied for Japan in World War II, the news agency reported. ...
In 2013, Yukawa decided to become a security consultant, borrowed some cash and hopped a plane to Syria. He planned to provide consulting services to major Japanese companies in conflict zones and would start there.
That's quite a story.
However, what about the "well-respected ... journalist"? Might news professionals also be interested in his life and his fate? Well, some are -- primarily those that work for alternative, "conservative" media outlets. And why is that?
As much as it troubles me to say this, we may see a clue at the very top of this report in The Wall Street Journal:
TOKYO -- The two men came from different backgrounds in Japan and encountered each other in a Middle East war zone last year. Now their lives are inextricably intertwined.
Kenji Goto is a devout Christian and a seasoned journalist known for traveling to conflict zones. Haruna Yukawa is a self-proclaimed mercenary with a troubled past who looked to turn his life around by throwing himself into one of the world’s most dangerous areas.
If you follow the ISIS stories closely, you know that these militants are very skilled at social-media research and promotion. They know the details of the lives of the people that they attempt to kidnap and, eventually, select for execution.
Why would they choose Yukawa? Tragically, might that have to do with his gender-blending media profile?
And what, tragically, would the terrorists have learned online about Goto?
Born in 1967 in Japan’s northern city of Sendai, Mr. Goto worked at a television production agency before setting up his own company, Independent Press, in 1996. His work has been featured on major Japanese television networks, and he has also authored several books including ones on child soldiers and survivors of the Rwandan civil war.
Tokyo-based freelance journalist Junpei Yasuda said he met Mr. Goto on three occasions last year to talk about their work. “He’s been reporting on Syria since 2011. It’s my impression that he was quite cautious, taking many steps before entering the country,” Mr. Yasuda said of Mr. Goto. “He wasn’t the type who would jump on to potential scoops if it entailed danger.”
Mr. Goto is also a Protestant who was baptized in 1997, according to his church in Tokyo.
“I believe the last time he came to church was on the last Sunday of August last year,” said Tateo Okuyama, who works at the Denenchofu Church in Tokyo. “Now all we can do is pray.”
In an interview last May with Christian Today, a Christian media outlet, Mr. Goto said he wanted to let the world know of the hardships endured by people trying to lead regular lives in difficult conditions.
“I work in many harrowing places that could be life-threatening, but I believe God will always help me, in ways I do not know,” he was quoted as saying.
The bottom line: Was this easily obtained information about Goto relevant to the jihadist leaders of the Islamic State? I would say, "yes."
Was this information relevant -- in that crucial first report on the hostages -- to the leaders of The Washington Post? How would you answer that question?