Japan early on Sunday strongly criticised a recording purporting to announce the execution of a Japanese citizen held by Islamic State militants and demanded the immediate release of another captive depicted as appearing on the image.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, in a brief televised statement, said the recording appeared to show captive Haruna Yukawa being killed.
“This is an outrageous and unacceptable act,” Suga said. “We strongly demand the prompt release of the remaining Mr. Kenji Goto, without harm.”
Suga read the statement and declined to take questions.
The graphic video claims to show Goto holding Yukawa’s head, according to NPR.
“They no longer want money,” a voice apparently belonging to Goto says in the video. “So, you don’t need to worry about funding terrorists. They are just demanding the release of their imprisoned sister, Sajida al-Rishawi.”
Sajida al-Rishawi took part in the 2005 bombings in Amam and was sentenced to death in Jordan.
Before demanding the return of al-Rishawi, ISIS had asked Japan on Tuesday to pay $US200 million within 72 hours in exchange for the return of their citizens, according to The New York Times.
Goto, the one whose voice appeared in the video, was a freelance journalist who covered war zones before vanishing in October. It’s believed he went into territory in Syria held by the Islamic State in order to try to free Yukawa, the prisoner who was recently beheaded. Yukawa, who described himself as a military contractor, vanished himself in August, according to The Times.
Junko Ishido, the mother of Goto, begged for his release earlier this week.
“Kenji has a strong sense of justice,” she said of her son in a news conference The Times reported on. “If things turn out good with his release, I think he would devote himself to the future, to the children.”
Reuters reporting by William Mallard.
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