In a video purportedly from the Islamic State group, militants threatened to kill two Japanese hostages unless they got $200 million within 72 hours.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the holding of Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa “unforgiveable,” saying “Their lives are the top priority.”
He did not discuss whether the government would pay the ransom when commenting on the situation during a trip to the Middle East.
The video, which appeared on websites connected to the militant group on Tuesday, showed two men in orange jumpsuits with a masked man in black standing between them. The man, speaking with a British accent, chastises the prime minister of Japan for donating “$100 million to kill our women and children, to destroy the homes of the Muslims” and stop the expansion of the Islamic State. The group has taken over about one-third of Iraq and Syria, it says, to create an Islamic caliphate.
Abe had promised to provide nonmilitary assistance to those fighting the Islamic State group while visiting Cairo on Saturday.
Goto is a freelance journalist and Yukawa is the chief executive of private security firm PMC, according to published reports.