The international community needs to “deal with terrorists without giving into them,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday after the militant group ISIS demanded $200 million for the release of two Japanese hostages.
But Abe, who was speaking at a news conference in Jerusalem, stopped short of explicitly ruling out the payment of a ransom or negotiations with the hostages’ captors.
The militant group ISIS has threatened to kill two Japanese citizens unless Tokyo hands over $200 million within 72 hours.
In a video posted online Tuesday, a masked man clad in black and holding a knife stands over two kneeling men in orange jumpsuits in a barren landscape.
The masked man links the threat against the two men’s lives to Japan’s support for the U.S.-led coalition that’s fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
“Although you are more than 8,500 kilometers away from the Islamic State, you willingly volunteered to take part in this crusade,” the man says, addressing his comments to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is currently visiting the Middle East.
Abe is reorganizing his trip to deal with the hostage crisis, said Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry said it was working to confirm the authenticity of the video. If it is genuine, Japanese authorities would be outraged at the threat against the hostages, the ministry said.
“The government of Japan will make maximum efforts for the early release of the Japanese citizens in cooperation with relevant countries,” it said.
The masked man in the video identifies the two men as Kenji Goto Jogo and Haruna Yukawa.