TOKYO (AFP) – Japan on Saturday vowed to “never give up” its struggle to save two Japanese hostages held captive by Islamic State militants after the deadline to pay their ransom passed in agonising silence.
Whether freelance journalist Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, the self-employed contractor he had gone to rescue, were alive remained unknown a day after the deadline to secure their release expired with no word from their captors.
The militants had threatened to kill the hostages if they did not receive $200 million in 72 hours, which Tokyo interpreted as meaning 2.50pm (0550 GMT) on Friday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama, who was heading Japan’s efforts to rescue its two nationals out of Jordan’s capital Amman, told reporters: “It is a very difficult path to see their release, despite a variety of routes.
“We are focusing on scrutinising information over again. We will never give up. We will bring them home.”
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters there was “nothing new to report” after holding a meeting of an emergency taskforce on Saturday morning.
Islamic State militants released a video this week in which Goto and Yukawa, apparently kneeling in the desert, are threatened with execution by a man with a British accent.