THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT has said it will not give in to “terrorism” after a video emerged in which Islamic militants threatened to kill two Japanese unless a $200 million ransom was paid.
“Our country’s stance — contributing to the fight against terrorism without giving in — remains unchanged,” chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo.
In the footage, a black-clad militant brandishing a knife addresses the camera in English, standing between two hostages wearing orange jumpsuits.
“You now have 72 hours to pressure your government into making a wise decision by paying the $200 million to save the lives of your citizens,” he says.
The militant said that the ransom demand was to compensate for non-military aid that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to support the campaign against IS during an ongoing Middle East tour that on Tuesday saw him in Jerusalem.
One of the hostages appeared in previous footage posted last August in which he identified himself as Haruna Yukawa and was shown being roughly interrogated by his captors.
The second hostage – Kenji Goto — is a freelance journalist who set up a video production company, named Independent Press in Tokyo in 1996, feeding video documentaries on the Middle East and other regions to Japanese television networks, including public broadcaster NHK.
He was born in Sendai, Miyagki, in 1967, according to the company’s website.