The Japanese government on Tuesday urged the Islamic State militant group not to harm the two Japanese nationals and to release them immediately, after a video clip, which seemed to have been produced by the group was uploaded online.
"In this video, a warning has been made that the two individuals, who seem to be Japanese nationals, will be executed. If this is true, such an act of blackmailing through holding the innocent lives as hostage is utterly impermissible, and we feel strong indignation," the government said in a statement released by Foreign Ministry.
The video, posted on YouTube earlier in the day, showed a masked militant, dressed in black, with two hostages in orange jumpsuits, identified as Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto Jogo. The militant said the two hostages will be killed unless the Japanese government pays a USD 200 million ransom in the next 72 hours.
"Prime Minister Abe's trip to the Middle East this time is intended to send a message that Japan will actively contribute to the stability of the Middle East region," the statement said. "Japanese assistance, which we have announced and amounts to approximately USD 200 million, is for humanitarian assistance and infrastructure development, and it is non-military in nature," it said.
In the document, the government also stressed that in any case, Japan will not give in to terrorism, and its position of contributing to the counter-terrorism efforts by the international community remains unchanged.