• Kyodo

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The threat of terrorism has become more real following the recent murder of two Japanese nationals by Islamic State militants in the Middle East, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday, calling for stepped-up security measures both at home and abroad.

“The threat of terrorism has become more realistic for our country,” he said at a vice ministerial meeting aimed at finding ways to better protect Japanese citizens from international crimes and terrorism.

Two days after the militant group released an online video purporting to show the corpse of journalist Kenji Goto with a warning to Japan of “carnage wherever your people are found,” Suga told the meeting: “I ask all of you to work together to strengthen anti-terrorism measures.”

The video carrying the Islamic State logo said, “Let the nightmare for Japan begin.” The militant group also killed Haruna Yukawa, another Japanese hostage, according to an online video released earlier.

Critics have questioned the government’s handling of the hostage crisis.

As for domestic measures, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s fellow Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers have called for accelerated security efforts heading toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The meeting’s participants from the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry and other government units vowed to consider fresh anti-terrorism steps if existing measures are not working.

The government is stepping up security at U.S. facilities in Japan as well as at ports, airports, railway stations and other transportation centers.

To prevent the funding of terrorism, Finance Minister Taro Aso said he has called on domestic financial institutions to strengthen their surveillance of banking transactions.

Aso, concurrently serving as financial services minister, also indicated at a news conference that Group of 20 finance chiefs may discuss how to deal with money-laundering at a two-day meeting early next week in Istanbul.

The hostage crisis broke out just days after Abe pledged $200 million in nonmilitary and humanitarian assistance to Middle East countries struggling against Islamic State.

The group claims that Japan has taken part in a “crusade” against its people.

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