Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday (21 Jan 2015) the government was in a “race against time” to save two Japanese nationals held hostage by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), shortly after he arrived home from the Middle East to take charge of Tokyo’s response to the crisis.
In an online video released on Tuesday, ISIS militants threatened to kill two Japanese nationals unless Abe pays a US$200 million ransom.
A defiant Abe had vowed he would not bow to “terrorism”, as Japan was thrust center-stage in the conflict gripping Syria and Iraq, where extremists have seized control of large areas.
On Wednesday he told reporters Japan would do its utmost to free the captives, but he maintained that that Tokyo would never give in to terrorism.
“I have instructed (the government) that we will exhaust all possible measures to have the two freed, using all diplomatic channels, all diplomatic routes we have built so far,” Abe said. “Our country will never give in to terrorism.”