IS Demands $200m Ransom For Japan Hostages

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Lives are being threatened again by the Islamic State (IS) militant group who released a video; demanding that Japan pay $200 m ransom for the lives of its two Japanese hostages. The group said the ransom must be paid within 72 hours or they will kill the Japanese citizens.

In the video, a black-clad militant carrying a knife addresses the camera and speaks in English. He is standing between the two hostages who are 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 said.

The militant in the video explained that the ransom amount that they are demanding is a compensation for the pledge that Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe announced during his Middle East tour in Jerusalem. The pledge was for a non-military aid to support the campaign against IS.

The Japanese government said that it would not give in to acts of terrorism.

“Our country’s stance – contributing to the fight against terrorism without giving in – remains unchanged,” Yoshihide Suga, chief government spokesman, said in a news conference in Tokyo.

The two hostages were identified as Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto. Haruna Yukawa already appeared in a footage released last August where he was being interrogated by his captors in a rough manner.

Meanwhile, Kenji Goto is a freelance journalist. He owns a video production company called Independent Press which he established in Tokyo in 1996. His company would send video documentaries on the Middle East and other regions to Japanese television networks. This included the public broadcaster NHK.

Over time, hostages seem to have become a key propaganda tool that is repetitively used by the Islamic State. IS has seized large swathes of territory in eastern Syria and across northern and western Iraq.

Their violent tactics have gotten the attention of the world. They have initiated mass killings as well as beheadings of soldiers, journalists, and other captives. Their actions have caused many countries to cry out in rage and this has prompted a military intervention by a US-led coalition.

Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said that Tokyo would “cooperate with related nations and do our very best to achieve the release of these Japanese nationals.”

“If this turns out to be true, to use human lives in this way and to make a threat is unforgivable and we feel extreme anger,” he added.