The deadline has passed for a 180 million euro ransom to be paid by the Japanese government to secure the release of two of its nationals held by ISIL militants in Syria.
A Social Media campaign is spreading
in support of Kenji Goto, a war correspondent who went to Syria three months ago. His fellow countryman Haruna Yukawa was taken hostage in August.
In an online video posted on Tuesday, officials were given 72 hours to pay the demand and the pair were shown kneeling before third man dressed in black.
At an emergency meeting on Saturday, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida was told that Japan was working with officials from Jordan and Turkey but that there was no immediate word on the pair’s fate.
“We just shared the latest information. And I told my colleagues to stay alert as they monitor what’s going on,” he told the awaiting media.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has previously said that saving the men’s lives was paramount but that Tokyo would not bow to terrorism.
Japan has ruled out joining the coalition military strikes on the Islamic State jihadist group for legal reasons.