Tokyo, Feb 1:
The Islamic State (IS) militants claimed in a video to have beheaded a second Japanese hostage, according to media reports Sunday. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the purported killing as “a despicable terrorist act”.
Freelance journalist and film-maker Kenji Goto, 47, was believed to have been executed by the IS, after his compatriot Haruna Yukawa was killed only a few days back. Goto was known to have gone to Syria in October to secure Yukawa’s release.
“It is an outrage and entirely unacceptable. We will do everything in our power to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. We will not give in to terrorism,” Abe said, according to a Xinhua report.
In the one-minute video clip, purportedly posted by the IS, a man believed to be Goto appears kneeling on the ground, wearing an orange jumpsuit, with a masked man, clad in black and wielding a knife standing behind the hostage.
The masked man in the gruesome video said: “…because Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s reckless decision to take part in an un-winnable war…(this) knife will not just slaughter Goto, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever Japanese people are found.”
After the video was posted online, Abe told reporters that he was utterly “outraged by the despicable terrorist act”, adding that he would never yield to terrorists.
The prime minister said that Japan would redouble its efforts to work with the international community in the fight against terrorism.
Abe also said that the tragic slayings of the two Japanese hostages by the IS would not deter the Japanese government from providing financial aid to countries fighting against the IS and other terrorist organisations, and it would in fact, be looking to increase its level of humanitarian aid for such activities.
Last month, the IS had threatened to kill Yukawa and Goto unless Japan paid $200 million within three days.
Abe, at the beginning of his tour of the Middle East last month, had announced that Japan would be donating $200 million in non-military aid to countries fighting the IS in order to help build human capacities and infrastructure.
The IS claimed that the ransom amount was the same as the financial aid pledged by Abe to countries affected by the militant group.
Early Sunday morning, both Japanese and US officials were trying to confirm the authenticity of the video, although sources close to the matter have suggested that the video was authentic, based on evidence from previous such videos.
Japanese officials had been working with Jordan to secure the release of Goto and the Jordanian pilot Muath Kasasbeh, captured by the IS.
An IS video released Tuesday said Goto had “only 24 hours left to live” and Kasasbeh “even less”.
The militants had threatened to kill the two hostages if Jordan did not release a woman sentenced to death in Jordan for her involvement in a terror attack on three hotels in Amman in 2005 that killed 60 people.
Since Tuesday, the Japanese government had remained extremely tight-lipped over developments regarding Goto, with Abe and senior officials in Tokyo declining to comment on speculation over a possible prisoner swap.
However, hoping against hope, Abe’s top spokesperson, Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the government believed Goto was still alive and was seeking cooperation from Jordan and other relevant governments, religious and tribal leaders to secure his release. (IANS)