The Words of the Ota Family

Paraguay Captives Reportedly Safe

April 10, 2007
The Japan Times

ASUNCION (Kyodo) The Unification Church has confirmed that four people kidnapped in Paraguay, including two Japanese, are safe and that negotiations for their release have made progress, a senior member of an affiliated group said Sunday.

Antonio Betancourt from a Unification Church-linked political group in Washington also demanded the captors immediately release the four hostages during a meeting with Japanese media. The two Japanese victims are members of the church.

Betancourt is in Paraguay to deal with the case, in which an armed group kidnapped Hirokazu Ota, 62, who runs a local company, and his female secretary, tentatively identified here as Suwako Takayama but in Japan as Yamaguchi, as well as two Paraguayans -- a police officer and his female acquaintance -- on April 1.

The kidnappers have reportedly demanded a ransom of $ 750,000 for the release of the four.

Betancourt also said that while negotiations with the captors have made progress, the two sides have yet to agree on an amount.

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