Iraq to Free 36 Japanese Hostages
TOKYO (AP) _ Iraq announced Thursday it would release 36 Japanese hostages whose family members are currently in Baghdad, a Foreign Ministry official said.
In a meeting with the relatives of the ″human shields,″ Uday Hussein, head of the Iraq Olympic Committee and son of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, told them his father had approved their release, the official said.
The date of their departure has not been disclosed.
The family members have been in Iraq since Nov. 1 with Antonio Inoki, a professional wrestler turned member of Parliament, to negotiate the release of the hostages.
A nationwide television broadcast showed the family members rejoicing over the announcement.
The Foreign Ministry has said Inoki’s trip is not in line with their policy because he is giving the impression he wants to make concessions to Iraq, which invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2.
Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone returned from Baghdad with 74 hostages last month in a mission that drew criticism from the U.S. government.
More than 200 Japanese remain in Iraq, of which 78 are being held as ″human shields″ against foreign attack in strategic military and industrial locations, the official said.