The militant group Islamic State released an online video on Tuesday purporting to show two Japanese captives and threatening to kill them unless it received $200 million in ransom.
A black-clad figure with a knife, standing in a barren landscape along with two kneeling men wearing orange clothing, said the Japanese public had 72 hours to pressure their government to stop its “foolish” support for the U.S.-led coalition waging a military campaign against Islamic State.
The militant, who spoke in English, demanded “200 million” without specifying a currency, but an Arabic subtitle identified it as U.S. dollars.
The footage named the men as Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto.
The video was not dated, but on a visit to Cairo on Jan. 17, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged around $200 million in non-military assistance for countries battling Islamic State.
Abe, speaking in Jerusalem on Tuesday towards the end of a six-day tour of the Middle East, said Islamic State’s threat against the two purported captives was “unacceptable”.
“We strongly demand the immediate release of the Japanese citizens unharmed,” Abe said. “The international community needs to respond firmly and cooperate without caving into terrorism.”
The video resembled others distributed by Islamic State outlets in which captives were threatened or killed. It appeared to be the first time that an Islamic State video specifically demanded cash for captives.