Japan Seeks International Help to Resolve Hostage Crisis

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (center) visits the tomb of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat upon his arrival to the West Bank city of Ramallah, on January 20, 2015. Abe cancelled part of his trip to the Middle East to deal with reports that the Islamic State militia threatened to kill two Japanese hostages unless 200 million dollars in ransom is paid within 72 hours. EPA/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN / POOL

By Take Kambayashi and Maher Abukhater

TOKYO (DPA) — The Japanese government Wednesday called on the United States as well as European and Middle Eastern countries to help save two Japanese men held by the Islamic State militant group, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe flew home to deal with the crisis.

Japan will "send a message calling on an immediate release of the hostages through diplomatic channels and all kinds of media," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

The group threatened in a video posted on the internet Tuesday to kill the two captives unless a 200-million-dollar ransom payment was made within three days.


Suga confirmed the identities of the men as Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist, and Haruna Yukawa, who works for a private security firm.

On Tuesday, Abe told reporters in Jerusalem that the threats to the hostages were "unforgivable" and demanded their immediate release.

The premier, who had planned to travel around the region until Saturday, cut short his trip and was to return to Tokyo later Wednesday to deal with the hostage situation, the Kyodo News agency reported.



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