IS Threatens to Kill Japanese Hostages, Demands $200m

IS Threatens to Kill Japanese Hostages, Demands $200mIS Threatens to Kill Japanese Hostages, Demands $200m

The militant Islamic State group, which holds territory in Iraq and Syria, issued a video online on Tuesday purporting to show two Japanese captives and demanding $200 million from the Japanese government to save their lives.

A black-clad figure with a knife, standing in a desert area along with two kneeling men wearing orange clothing, says in the video that the Japanese public has 72 hours to pressure their government to stop its “foolish” support for the US-led coalition waging a military campaign against the IS, Reuters said in a report.

The militant, who spoke in English, demanded “200 million” without specifying a currency, but an Arabic subtitle identified it as US dollars. The video identified the Japanese hostages as Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto Jogo. The video was not dated.

On a visit to Cairo on January 17, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had pledged around $200 million in non-military assistance for countries battling the IS. Abe was in Jerusalem on Tuesday as part of a regional tour.

In Tokyo, Japan’s foreign ministry said it was checking the video to see whether the footage was genuine and said that, if it was, “such a threat by taking hostages is unacceptable and we are extremely resentful.”

Goto is a freelance reporter who was based in Tokyo. He has written books on AIDS and children in war zones from Afghanistan to Africa and reported for news broadcasters in Japan.

In August, a Japanese citizen believed to be Yukawa, a private military company operator in his early 40s, was kidnapped in Syria after going there to train with militants, according to a post on a blog. Pictures on his Facebook account show him in Iraq and Syria in July. One video on his page showed him holding a Kalashnikov assault rifle with the caption, “Syria war in Aleppo 2014.”

  Similar Video

The video resembled others distributed by IS outlets in which captives were threatened or killed. The militant, who spoke with a British accent, appeared to have the same voice as the figure shown threatening captives in previous IS videos.

The militant in the video also says, “To the prime minister of Japan: Although you are more than 8,000 and 500 kilometers from the Islamic State, you willingly have volunteered to take part in this crusade. You have proudly donated $100 million to kill our women and children, to destroy the homes of the Muslims.”

IS has beheaded and shot dead hundreds of captives — mainly Syrian and Iraqi soldiers — during its sweep across the two countries, and has published extremely graphic videos of their killings. IS had previously published videos of murdered American hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff along with British hostages David Haines and Alan Henning.

The group also holds British photojournalist John Cantlie, who has appeared in other videos of the group, and a 26-year-old American woman captured last year in Syria while working for aid groups.

  Unforgivable Act

Abe and other Japanese officials declined to say whether they’d make the payment to save the men. However the Japanese prime minister - who is now on a six-day visit to the Middle East with more than 100 government officials and presidents of Japanese companies - underlined the act as “unforgivable” and said, “Extremism and Islam are completely different things.”

Abe said he would send Yasuhide Nakayama, a deputy foreign minister, to Amman, Jordan, to seek the country’s support and to resolve the hostage crisis. The premier also said the Israeli government, which Japan promised Sunday to cooperate with on counterterrorism, are sharing information to aid in the hostage crisis.

Speaking in Tokyo, chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga also declined to say whether Japan would pay the ransom.

“If true, the act of threat in exchange of people’s lives is unforgivable and we feel strong indignation,” Suga told journalists. “We will make our utmost effort to win their release as soon as possible.”