Japan’s top government spokesman, Yasuo Fukuda, told a news conference authorities were trying to confirm the media reports, which said a Japanese non-governmental organization had received an e-mail saying two Japanese had been kidnapped near Baghdad.
Italy said early on Thursday that one of four Italians taken captive had been killed, but Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said there would be no impact on Rome’s refusal to withdraw from the U.S.-led force in Iraq.
Italy and Japan have been staunch supporters of the United States in Iraq, and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi echoed Berlusconi’s resolve to keep troops there.
“(The Italian death) is sad. But we must not succumb to such a cowardly act,” Koizumi told reporters.