Japanese PM calls ransom threat ‘unacceptable act of terrorism’

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Jerusalem called on the Islamic State to release two Japanese hostages immediately and said the demand for a $200 million ransom is “an unacceptable act of terrorism.”

“Japan will cooperate with the international community and further contribute to peace and stability in the region,” Abe said during a news conference Tuesday morning in Jerusalem. “This policy is unshakable and we won’t change it.”

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The Islamic State on Tuesday morning posted a video on social media demanding that Japan pay the ransom for the two hostages within 72 hours. The men will be executed after the deadline passes, according to the video.

In the video, a masked man standing between the two kneeling men in orange prison jumpsuits directly addresses Abe, criticizing his decision to join the U.S.-led coalition against IS.

The hostages reportedly are freelance journalist Kenji Goto Jogo and rebel military consultant Haruna Yukawa.

Abe, while in Egypt over the weekend, pledged that his government would provide about $200 million in non-military aid to countries fighting the Islamic State.

Abe was in Jerusalem as part of a Middle East tour. He previously visited Egypt and Jordan; he was scheduled to visit the Palestinian Authority later on Tuesday.

“Japan will continue our active engagement for the purpose of regional stability in the Middle East peace process and other efforts with the understanding of the difficult environment of Israel,” he said Sunday during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.