Prime Minister Shinzo Abe admitted Wednesday it was a “race against time” to free two hostages being held by jihadi militants who are demanding $200 million for their lives.
A defiant Abe said he would not bow to “terrorism” as he took charge of the crisis that Japan was thrust into with the release of a chilling video apparently showing two Japanese men kneeling in the desert of Syria or Iraq.
“This is a very tough race against time, but the government will do its utmost,” he told reporters. “I have ordered the government to use all diplomatic channels and routes possible . . . to ensure the release of the two people.”
Abe, who rushed home from a tour of the Middle East, said he had sought help from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, as well as from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“Japan will never yield to terrorism. Japan will do its best in the battle against the cowardice of terrorism, hand in hand with the international community,” Abe said.
The government said Wednesday it believed the deadline would expire at 2:50 p.m. on Friday.
The militant says the sum is equal to the aid that Abe pledged in support of the fight against Islamic State jihadis, money Japan says is to help refugees fleeing the fighting in Iraq and Syria.