Japan PM Shinzo Abe in Islamic State ‘hostages’ vow
JAPANESE Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has condemned an apparent threat by the Islamic State group to kill two Japanese hostages.
A video purportedly from the group shows a militant threatening to kill two hostages unless a ransom is paid.
In the video, which has not been independently verified, the man also criticises Japan for pledging aid to countries fighting Islamic State (IS).
Mr Abe said the threat was unacceptable and vowed to save the hostages.
He added that their lives were his “top priority” and that Japan would not give in to terrorism.
Japan’s foreign ministry said it was working to verify the video.
Mr Abe is currently in Jerusalem as part of a six-day tour of the Middle East.
However, Kyodo news agency is reporting that he will cancel part of his trip to deal with the hostage crisis.
In a press conference in Jerusalem, Mr Abe said he was “indignant” and felt “strong resentment” at the threats, and demanded the immediate release of the hostages.He added that Japan’s pledges of non-military support to countries in the Middle East would continue.
On Saturday, while in Cairo, Mr Abe promised $2.5bn in non-military assistance to the region, with $200m in non-military aid for countries fighting Islamic State.
He said that the world would suffer “immeasurable” damage if terrorism spread in the region.
Japan relies on the Middle East for much of its crude oil imports.
The apparent IS video shows a masked man holding a knife and threatening two hostages.
Speaking in English, the militant says he will kill the two men unless a $200m (£130m) ransom is paid within 72 hours.
Hostages have become a key propaganda tool for Islamic State.
The militant group has seized large swathes of territory in eastern Syria and across northern and western Iraq.
Its brutal tactics – including mass killings and the beheadings of soldiers, journalists and other captives – have sparked international outrage and prompted military intervention by a US-led coalition.
Speaking earlier to journalists, Japan’s top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said: “If true, the act of threat in exchange of people’s lives is unforgivable and we feel strong indignation.
“We will make our utmost effort to win their release as soon as possible.”