Japan’s new assertive foreign policy drive is being blamed for the ISIL hostage crisis.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is facing criticism that a recent Middle East visit may have been read as a sign of provocation by the Islamic State militant group.
Angry protesters gathered in Tokyo on Sunday night following the release of a video purportedly showing the killing of Haruna Yukawa, one of the two Japanese hostages taken captive in Syria.
“A picture that we believe shows the murder of Haruka Yukawa has been distributed. We are analysing the validity of this image and unfortunately at this point, we believe it is highly likely to be valid,” Abe told Japanese TV.
He said the hostage crisis was an “extremely painful situation”.
Attention is now focused on efforts to save the other hostage, journalist Kenji Goto.
Officials are still working with several other nations in the region to try to secure his release.
ISIL has dropped its 180 million euro ransom demand and now wants a prisoner swap deal.