Japan P.M. condemns I.S. hostage video

Jan 28, 2015, 6:51 AM EST
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) speaks to reporters after his cabinet meeting on a Japanese hostage at his official residence in Tokyo on January 28 2015. Abe slammed as 'utterly despicable' an Islamist militant threat to kill a Japanese hostage within 24 hours unless Jordan releases a jihadi bomber.
AFP/Getty Images

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said a new Islamic State video threatening to kill hostage Kenji Goto within 24 hours is "despicable". In the footage a voice believed to be Mr Goto says he and a Jordanian pilot will be killed unless Jordan frees an Iraqi woman held on death row. The BBC reports that Mr Abe said Japan was working with Jordan to secure their release. IS said on Sunday it had killed another Japanese man, Haruna Yukawa. It had demanded a $200m ransom.

In the latest footage, released around midday on Tuesday, the speaker says Mr Goto has "only 24 hours left to live" and Jordanian hostage Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh "even less" unless Jordan releases Sajida al-Rishawi. Al-Rishawi is an al-Qaeda militant who has been sentenced to death in Jordan for her involvement in a 2005 attack that killed 60 people.

The mother of Kenji Goto appealed for his life on Wednesday, according to Reuters, pleading with Abe's government to do what it could to effect his release.

"Please save Kenji's life. I call on you to work with all your strength in negotiations with the Jordanian government," Junko Ishido said in a letter to the prime minister that she read out at a news conference. "His remaining time is very short ... I beg you to do everything in your power," Ishido said, reiterating that her son was not an enemy of Islam.

Officials involved in the crisis say Tokyo knew for months that Islamic State militants were holding two Japanese men captive, but appeared ill-prepared when the group set a ransom deadline and purportedly killed one of them.

Reuters also is reporting that Jordan's government spokesperson said on Wednesday his country was willing to hand over an Iraqi would-be-suicide bomber if a Jordanian pilot captured by Islamic State was released.

"Jordan is ready to release prisoner Sajida al-Rishawi if the Jordanian pilot Lieutenant Muath al-Kasaesbeh was released and his life spared," Mohammad al-Momani, a government spokesperson, was quoted on state television as saying. He did not make any reference to Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.

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