The Islamic State group threatened to kill two Japanese hostages unless it receives a $200 million ransom within 72 hours, but Tokyo vowed Tuesday it would not give in to “terrorism”.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was in Jerusalem on the latest leg of a Middle East tour, demanded that the jihadists immediately free the two hostages unharmed.
He was to fly home after an early afternoon summit with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to take charge of the crisis, cutting short the rest of his tour.
IS has murdered five Western hostages since August last year, but it is the first time that the extremist group — which has seized swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq — has threatened Japanese captives.
In footage posted on jihadist websites, a black-clad militant brandishing a knife addresses the camera in English, standing between hostages Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa who are wearing orange jumpsuits.