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Japan says no contact from IS after ransom deadline

Updated: 2015-01-23 17:16

Japan says no contact from IS after ransom deadline

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga touches his head during a news conference at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo Jan 23, 2015. Suga said Japan had received no message from the Islamic State even after the expiry of a 72-hour deadline to pay a ransom of $200 million for two men being held as captives.[Photo/Agencies]

TOKYO - Top spokesman of the Japanese government Yoshihide Suga said on Friday afternoon that they still have no contact from the Islamic State (IS) militants, who have taken two Japanese nationals hostages, after the deadline set by the military group.

Suga said that Japan continues to seek early release of the two hostages, Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa. The government believes that the deadline was set at around 2:50 p.m. Friday, 72 hours from a video clip claiming to execute the two Japanese unless ransom of about 200 million U.S. dollars is paid.

The video was uploaded on Tuesday by IS militants directly to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and demanded the ransom, the same amount pledged by Abe on Saturday in Cairo to help the region counter the threats posted by the IS.

The chief cabinet secretary said earlier Friday that the government has not yet confirm the safety of the two hostages and stressed that Japan will not give in to terrorism.

Junko Ishido, mother of Goto, called Friday morning for the release of her son, reiterating that Goto is not an enemy of the IS and Japan is not also a foe of Islamic countries but a country maintaining friendship with them.

In a statement released prior to the press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, the mother said that "the time remaining is scarce. I beg you Japanese government officials, please save Kenji's life."

She said Goto currently is a father of a two-week-old baby but he has no chance to know it, and his motive to be in Middle East is to help rescue his acquaintance Haruna Yukawa, another Japanese hostage held by the IS militants.

Meanwhile, Abe told his cabinet members to do their best to handle the hostage crisis.

The top government spokesman also declined to comment on a media report that Islamic State is set to issue a statement sometime soon.

Japan now is working with the international community to try to secure the release of the hostages.

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