Shosei Koda was the first Japanese killed in Iraq

The Japanese government on Sunday confirmed that a decapitated body found in Iraq is that of a Japanese hostage taken hostage by Islamic militants earlier this week.

NHK, the country's national broadcaster, the identity of the body found in central Baghdad on Saturday was that of Shosei Koda, 24.

According to foreign news agencies, Japanese Prime Minister &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Junichiro Koizumi has been notified and Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura would confirm the news publicly, New Kerala reported.

According to the Boston Globe, the beheading of a Japanese hostage in Iraq renewed pressure on Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to withdraw his country's troops, as the opposition blamed his pro-&to=http:// 22/98/386/14155_terrorism.html ' target=_blank>U.S. policy for the slaying.

Japanese officials said fingerprint tests proved a decapitated body, wrapped in an American flag, found in Baghdad was that of backpacker Shosei Koda, who had been held by &to=http:// ' target=_blank>al-Qaida-linked militants demanding Tokyo withdraw its 500 troops from the southern city of Samawah.

Koizumi, who must soon decide whether to extend Japan's deployment beyond a Dec. 14 deadline, called the killing a "brutal, inhuman act."

He said that Koda's murder and the question of the deployment were separate issues. But officials said an extension of the mission hadn't been decided, and Koizumi refrained from making any commitments sparing him embarrassment if he ultimately decides to withdraw.

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