Shinsuke Hashida and his nephew Kotaro Ogawa, both freelance journalists, were killed along with their translator when their car came under attack by Iraqi gunmen near Mahmoudiya, 20 miles (30 kilometers) south of the capital, Baghdad, according to news reports.
Bangkok-based freelancer Hashida and Ogawa had been traveling to Baghdad from the southern city of Samawah, where Japan deployed hundreds of troops, when the attack occurred. Agence France-Presse listed the translator as Mohamed Najmedin.
The Associated Press reported that the men were working for the Japanese tabloid daily Nikkan Gendai covering Japanese troops stationed in the southern city of Samawah. Japanese TV channel NHK reported that the two journalists had also worked for several other Japanese news organizations.
According to press reports, the journalists' car burst into flames after the attack. AFP and Reuters reported that the car was hit by rocket-propelled grenade fire. The driver, an Iraqi who survived the attack, told NHK that he was able to exit the car before it exploded.
Hashida's body was badly burned in the fire. The AP reported that Ogawa's body was found six miles (10 kilometers) from the wreck. Japanese press reports said that Ogawa might have been executed by the gunmen after fleeing or being taken away from the scene.
Hashida was an experienced journalist who had covered several conflicts as a TV reporter, according to Japanese media reports.