JERUSALEM – Tokyo offered to pay ransoms for the release of Japanese nationals seized in the hostage crisis in Algeria in January, a recent Algerian newspaper report said.
Algerian Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia spoke about the Japanese offer at a meeting with Algerians in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, said the electronic version of the El Khabar newspaper.
A high-ranking Japanese official told Algerian officials that Japan is ready to offer a blank check to protect the lives of the Japanese hostages, the report said.
The minister rejected the offer in line with the African nation’s policy of not paying ransoms, according to the report.
The incident left dozens of foreigners dead. The Japanese death toll of 10 was the highest national figure.
Japan asked Algeria to protect the lives of the hostages, but Algeria stormed the Ain Amenas gas complex to attack Islamic militants holding the hostages there without negotiating with them.
In Tokyo on Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denied that Japan had offered to pay ransoms in the incident. Japan’s basic position is that it will not yield in the fight against terrorism, he said.