Japanese officials are awaiting word on the whereabouts and condition of three Japanese citizens held hostage by Iraqi insurgents.
Japanese officials say they received information from Iraqi authorities that the captives would be freed unharmed early today(Sunday).
The Arabic television station Al-Jazeera reported the kidnappers agreed to free the hostages in response to an appeal from Iraqi Muslim clerics.
On Thursday, the kidnappers threatened to burn the hostages alive unless Japan withdrew its forces from Iraq by today.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi insisted he would not give in to the kidnappers' demands. Japan has about 500 non-combat troops in Iraq working on reconstruction.
Al-Jazeera also aired a recording Saturday from kidnappers who said they would kill an American hostage if U.S. forces did not pull out of Fallujah. The station showed footage of the hostage, who is believed to be a U.S. civilian abducted Friday near Baghdad. There is no word today on his condition.
Another Iraqi group says it is holding 30 Japanese, Bulgarian, Israeli, American, Spanish and South Korean hostages and says they will kill them unless U.S. forces end their blockade of Fallujah.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.