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Beheaded Japanese hostage found


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Shosei Koda is shown with his captors in this video released on a militant Islamist Web site Wednesday.
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Junichiro Koizumi

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Japan's Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura has confirmed a headless body found Saturday in Baghdad is that of Japanese hostage Shosei Koda.

Koda was kidnapped Tuesday, and his captors threatened the next day to behead him unless Japan pulled its troops out of Iraq.

Machimura told reporters that Koda was identified through fingerprints sent from Japanese Embassy officials to the Foreign Ministry Tokyo.

The head was with the body.

Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi gave his condolences to Koda's family, and said he had a feeling of indignation over the killing.

On Wednesday, Islamic militants threatened to behead Koda, unless Japan pulled its troops out of Iraq.

There had been no official word since then on his fate.

Asked what would be done about Japanese troops in Iraq, Machimura said the issue was undecided.

Their tour of duty was to end December 14, but Japan had agreed to an extension.

That decision is now being reevaluated.

The discovery of Koda's body comes shortly after it was confirmed that another body -- found in Balad, north of Baghdad -- was not that of Koda.

The U.S. military airlifted the remains of the Balad body to Kuwait on Saturday, where it was examined by a doctor at the Japanese Embassy.

An Islamist Web site used by the group led by wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had posted video of Koda shortly after the abduction.

Koda was seen kneeling in front of three masked militants dressed in black and calling on Koizumi to help him.

At one point, Koda looked down and one of the militants grabbed him by his hair to force him to look up at the camera.

"We grant the Japanese government 48 hours to withdraw its troops from Iraq or this infidel will be beheaded," one of the militants said.

The group that issued the statement called itself the Qaeda of Jihad, a new name for al-Zarqawi's group following a recent pledge of loyalty to Osama bin Laden. His group had previously been known as Unification and Jihad.

The network has carried out numerous abductions and has beheaded many of its captives.

Al-Zarqawi's group issued online warnings in recent months that citizens of Japan and other countries would be at risk if they were to come to Iraq.

Koizumi has been one of the strongest backers of the U.S.-led effort in Iraq, with his country contributing about $500 million in aid to Iraq and also playing host to a donor's conference to try to garner more financial support for reconstruction.

However, that position has put him at odds with much of his country, where a majority of Japanese people polled opposed his decision to send troops to Iraq.

Japan's constitution doesn't allow troops to take part in combat, so they have been working in southern Iraq on humanitarian missions.

CNN's Atika Shubert contributed to this report


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